Another special election, another really bad sign for the GOP

In other words, Arizona 8 doesn’t make for a lot of headlines. There was no Roy Moore equivalent in the district — and not even a Greg Gianforte. The district moved ever-so-slightly toward Democrats between 2012 and 2016, but it wasn’t a place where the political trends were changing all that rapidly, or where Democrats actually expected to be within striking distance (as they did in Georgia’s highly educated, suburban 6th Congressional District, where Democrat Jon Ossoff lost to Republican opponent Karen Handel in a special election last year). Arizona 8 is essentially a “generic”, but very red, congressional district.

But that very lack of distinctiveness probably makes Arizona 8 a more reliable data point. There are no particular contingencies related to the candidates or the campaigns or the demographics of the district that complicate the outcome or give many excuses for it.

And although the Republican, Lesko, is the apparent winner, the election represents another really bad data point for the GOP. Lesko’s margin of victory was only 5 percentage points in a district that typically votes Republican by much, much more than that. The outcome represented a 20-point swing toward Democrats relative to the district’s FiveThirtyEight partisan lean, which is derived from how the it voted for president in 2016 and 2012 relative to the country.