Monday, April 10, 2017

A Double Helping Of The House Special, Please

I've talked about Democrat Jon Ossoff in Georgia running for now HHS Secretary Tom Price's seat in Georgia's 6th in what would be a major upset, but it turns out there's another special election for now CIA Director Mike Pompeo's old seat in Kansas' 4th district tomorrow, and Democrat James Thompson actually has an outside shot in that race.  Roll Call's Nathan Gonzales:

Former Capitol Hill aide Jon Ossoff, 30, is riding the Democratic energy stemming from Trump’s election and raised an astounding $8.3 million in the first three months of the year — a staggering amount for a House candidate. For some perspective, former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland took an entire cycle to raise $10.7 million for his Ohio Senate race last year.

In the beginning, Ossoff looked like a long shot to make the June 20 runoff, but now he has the opportunity to win the race outright by winning a majority in the open primary later this month. Democrats are dominating early voting and, most importantly, could be changing the makeup of the electorate by turning out low propensity voters.

Most public and private polls have Ossoff in the low to mid-40s and leading the field by a wide margin. Based on his position, the difficulty of accurately predicting special election turnout, the polls’ margins of error, and Ossoff’s financial advantage, we are changing the Inside Elections rating from Lean Republican to Toss-Up.

You can read the full analysis about the rating change in the April 7 issue of Inside Elections.

Republicans are also trying to avoid an unexpected problem in Kansas’ 4th District, where Mike Pompeo vacated his seat to become CIA director.

The April 11 race between Republican state Treasurer Ron Estes and Democrat James Thompson, a lawyer, hasn’t received a lot of attention, but the National Republican Congressional Committee recently began an ad campaign in a district Trump carried comfortably in November. National and local Democrats haven’t put in much time or effort into the race, but there is some GOP concern about the enthusiasm gap and the quality of the Estes campaign.

We’re changing the Inside Elections rating from Solid Republican to Likely Republican. You can read more analysis on the race in the April 7 issue of Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales.

Ossoff has a better shot than Thompson does, but Pompeo won this bright-red district by 25-30 points since 2010. the fact that Thompson might make the race closer that double-digits is news in and of itself.

And of course the 800-pound orangutan in the room is Trump's sub-35% approval rating.  If he's worth this big of a shift towards the Democrats so far in special elections less than three months in, by the time November 2018 rolls around it could be a bloodbath for Team Red.

In related news I see this morning that Tom Perez and Ben Ray Lujan are already having a positive effect on bringing back the "50 states and every seat" strategy as the Democrats are making moves to flip seats in that reddest of red enclaves in California, Orange County.

Stay tuned, especially in Georgia.

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