Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Kansas and Georgia state races signal trouble for the GOP

Two days ago the Cook Political Report revised is predictions about two special elections in Kansas and Georgia: KS–04 Moves to Lean Republican, GA–06 to Toss Up

In the final hours of the special election to replace new CIA Director Mike Pompeo in Wichita, Kansas, Republicans are expressing alarm that Democrat James Thompson is within striking distance of carrying a seat President Trump won by 27 points last November. Although GOP state Treasurer Ron Estes remains the favorite heading into Election Day, we are shifting our rating from Likely Republican to Lean Republican.

Republicans familiar with recent polling describe extremely high Democratic intensity and very low GOP enthusiasm in what is likely to be a very low turnout special. More than that, Estes appears to be swept up in a last-minute vortex of factors outside his control: Democrats’ anger towards Trump, independents’ anger towards Gov. Sam Brownback and GOP dissatisfaction with early administration failures.

We now know the outcome of the Kansas race via FiveThirtyEight’s Significant Digits newsletter.

27 points
President Trump won in Kansas’s 4th Congressional District by a margin of 27 points in the 2016 presidential election. In Tuesday’s special election to replace Mike Pompeo, now director of the CIA, the Republican candidate for Congress won by only 7 points. That may be bad news for GOP members of Congress in more competitive districts than the 4th. [Kansas Secretary of State, The Wall Street Journal]

That is bad news for the GOP in GA–06, as Cook Political Report explains.

Even a single-digit finish in a seat like KS–04, with a Cook PVI score of R+15, would portend big trouble for Republicans in next week’s special primary election in GA–06, which has a PVI score of R+8. There is a real chance Democrat Jon Ossoff, who is dramatically outspending the rest of the field while the main GOP contenders turn on each other, could hit 50 percent on April 18 and avoid a runoff. As such, we are moving GA–06 to Toss Up.

FYI: The PVI stands for Partisan Voter Index. “A Partisan Voting Index score of D+2, for example, means that in the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections, that district performed an average of two points more Democratic than the nation did as a whole, while an R+4 means the district performed four points more Republican than the national average. If a district performed within half a point of the national average in either direction, we assign it a score of EVEN.”

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