Mike Pompeo was the guy who used to have the seat representing Kansas-4. He went off to head the C.I.A. for President Trump. In his absence, Kansas had a special election to ensure that KS-4 had a representative. James Thompson ran on the Democratic ticket, Ron Estes ran on the Republican ticket (some Libertarian nutball ran on the Libertarian ticket).
This is a district that had Trump win by about 27 points. Pompeo got 61%. The Democrat got 29.4%. Some Independent candidate got 6.8%. Some Libertarian nutball (a different one!) got 2.8% last November.
This time, the election was Ron Estes with 52.5% and Thompson with 45.7% (the Libertarian nutball got 1.7%).
Now, there are a lot of dynamics going on with this particular election. There’s Brownback’s disasterous economic policies. There’s the whole Donald Trump thing. But there is also the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) decision to not push the Democrat in this particular election. It ran a phone bank on Thompson’s behalf in the last few days but didn’t otherwise really insert itself into the election. The argument the DCCC gave on its own behalf was something to the effect of (and I’m paraphrasing this) “we couldn’t insert ourselves into the election because if we did, that would have awakened the Republican Machine and they would have campaigned against the DCCC and Thompson and so we wanted to stay under the radar in order to give Thompson a chance.” (Read the statement here.)
So there are a million takes on this election, each hotter than the last.
“This election was a referendum on Brownback, not on Trump.”
“This election proves that Republicans have nothing to worry about.”
“This election proves that Democrats have gained 15 points in the polls without even doing anything!”
“This election proves that Trump is unpopular on a national level!”
“This election proves that Democrats still have no idea on how to allocate resources!”
“Special elections prove nothing because only crazy people vote in them!”
I see every reason that Republicans should look at this election and start stocking up on extra-strength Pepto-Bismol before 2018. I see every reason that the Democratic base should look at this and start screaming that the DCCC (among others) has learned *NOTHING* from how the DNC demoralized everybody to the left of Jeb Bush throughout 2016. I see every reason to think that the Republicans are not only not going to hold the line in 2018 but lose the House in a wave election. I see every reason to think that Democrats are, once again, going to get slaughtered and the Democratic Leadership will have zero understanding of why they didn’t win that many seats despite the number of upvotes they got on Reddit.
I see every reason to think that this special election had more to do with Kansas and the goofiness going on in Kansas (and specifically KS-4) than anything, at all, to do with a National issue and there’s no reason to think that there’s any useful information for anybody in this election.
But there was a special election for a congressional seat in Kansas. This was a district that the Republicans won by double digits just a few short months ago… and the Republicans only (should that word be in air quotes?) won it by single digits this time.
Perhaps something that will give us additional tea leaves to read: There’s a special election in Georgia next week. Tom Price went off to DC to become Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services. Back in November, Tom Price beat Rodney Stooksbury 61.6% to 38.4%.