Democrats flip seats in pro-Trump districts with swings of up to 31 points

Some good news for Democrats looking to 2018 midterms

Jeremy B. White
San Francisco
Thursday 14 September 2017 01:24 BST
Voters cast ballots in the Bronx, New York on November 8, 2016
Voters cast ballots in the Bronx, New York on November 8, 2016 (REUTERS/Saul Martinez)

Democratic candidates have won a pair of state legislative races in districts Donald Trump decisively carried in November, offering glimmers of hope as the national party looks ahead to Congressional midterms.

In Oklahoma, Democrat Jacob Rosencrants defeated Republican Darin Chambers to claim an open seat in the state’s House of Representatives. Democrats bolstered their numbers in the New Hampshire House of Representatives as Democrat Charlie St Clair defeated Steven Whalley to secure a vacant seat formerly occupied by a Republican.

Elections for state Legislatures tend to be lower-turnout affairs that are focused on local matters like schools and taxes rather than the types of divisive issues dominating national politics. A Democratic legislator told the Oklahoman that Mr Rosencrants’ race served as a referendum on education funding, which is largely hammered out at the state or local level.

But Democrats are broadly hoping that Donald Trump’s unpopularity will buoy their chances in 2018 elections that will help determine control of Congress, and in both races Democrats claimed formerly Republican posts in districts where Mr Trump had prevailed over Democratic nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

According to data compiled by Daily Kos, Mr Rosencrants’ 20-point victory represented a 31-point swing over the margin compiled by Mr Trump, who carried the district by 11 points. In New Hampshire, Mr St. Claire won by 12 points a district where voters chose Mr Trump by a 17-point margin, a gap of 29 points.

Reflecting hopes for competitive midterms, the Democratic Party poured resources into a pair of special elections in Montana and Georgia earlier this year. Democratic candidates lost both races, but the mere fact that typically safe Republican seats attracted national attention demonstrated the party’s ambitions.

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