Tuesday night’s special election in Kentucky provided further proof that a powerful blue wave is sweeping the nation. Democrat Linda Belcher won by a landslide in District 45, south of Louisville, where Trump had trounced Clinton 72-23 in 2016 and Romney beat Obama 66-33 in 2012.
Belcher took the legislative seat by a 68-32 margin, representing an astonishing 45 point improvement over Hillary Clinton in 2016. But, in all fairness, Belcher did hold this very seat previously and only lost by a narrow 50.4-49.6 in the election of 2016.
Republican Dan Johnson, the man who edged Belcher out, committed suicide in December amid a storm of sexual assault allegations. Johnson’s widow was later nominated to run on the GOP ticket, despite the fact that she flatly denied the allegations against her late husband.
Disenchantment over Trump also may have helped Belcher score votes this time. She improved her own margin by 18 points in just 15 months. The spike may also be a function of higher turnout by Democrats at the polls during special elections in the past year.
A Democratic Surge
Daily Kos has kept a fascinating spreadsheet tallying the results of special elections since Trump’s victory in 2016. The 70 special elections in 2017 showed Democrats running 10 points ahead of Clinton’s numbers in 2016, and 7 points ahead of Obama’s 2018 results. And the numbers are even more impressive for the 14 special elections on the books already for 2018. Democrats are accelerating 28 points ahead of Clinton and 14 points ahead of Obama in these recent races.
The Democratic surge is causing a panic among Republicans. They are attempting to overturn a recent gerrymandering decision in Pennsylvania, pledging to spend millions on a special election in Pittsburgh, and leaving legislative seats vacant in Wisconsin rather than risk more losses.
While Dems cannot count on increasing their margins nationwide to the outrageous degree that Linda Belcher managed in Kentucky, the wind does appear to be at their backs for 2018.