Once, twice, three times, maybe four flukes. But 37 losses by Republicans in special state legislative elections during the Trump presidency would seem to be setting an ominous pattern for the GOP’s outlook come midterm elections on Nov. 6.
Tuesday night in Kentucky’s 49th House district, just south of Louisville, Democrat Linda Belcher won back the seat she narrowly lost in 2016 to Republican Dan Johnson. She beat Johnson’s widow by more than two-to-one in a district that Donald Trump carried over Hillary Clinton 72-23.
Of course, Democrats still have a long road ahead just to get back to where they were when Barack “Me First” Obama took office in 2009. Under his leadership, Democrats lost almost 1,000 state legislative seats. Republicans still control 33 of 50 governor’s offices and both houses in 26 of those states.
Political control at the state level is important because state legislatures are where districts will be redrawn after the 2020 census. They also comprise the farm teams where politicians gain priceless experience and name recognition for subsequent runs for higher office.
Quick, name a scandal-free Democratic governor who could realistically run for president. Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
See what we mean?
So far in the 397 days of the Trump presidency, Democrats have taken back 37 state legislative seats. Last month they regained a Wisconsin state Senate seat.
Democrats lost a bunch of prominent U.S. House district special elections but defeated the GOP for an Alabama Senate seat for the first time in a quarter-century.
Historically, a president’s party takes heavy losses in the first midterm elections of a presidency. Losses average around 30 House seats, more if a president is unpopular.
In 1994, Bill Clinton lost Congress entirely. In 2002 George W. Bush’s Republicans actually gained seats. The first Obama midterms in 2010 saw an historic upheaval of 65 House seats to Republicans.
Democrats need to gain only 24 House seats in November to re-install Nancy Pelosi as speaker, regain control of all House committees with their subpoena powers and make Donald Trump’s next two years miserable.