Texas Special Election May Mark Crest of Democratic Momentum

July 2, 2018 Updated: July 2, 2018    

News Analysis

This campaign season, all the special elections and primaries leading up to the November midterms have been looked at with one issue in mind: Are the Democrats going to ride a blue wave toward control of the House of Representatives?

On the Texas Gulf Coast, on June 30, a little-known Republican, Michael Cloud, won the election to fill the 27th Congressional District seat vacated by the disgraced Blake Farenthold. The result was in line with expectations for this ruby red, pro-Trump district, which may suggest Democratic momentum has crested.

In a field of nine candidates, Cloud took 53 percent of the vote, while Democrat Eric Holguin took 32 percent. The two will face off again in November in the general election, which Cloud will be heavily favored to win.

President Donald Trump carried the 27th district by 24 points, and so Cloud’s 21-point victory over Holguin was more or less in line with expectations.

Other special elections have not so closely reflected expected Republican strength.

For instance, on March 13, the Democrats picked up Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District, which had leaned by 21 points toward the Republicans. On April 24, the Republicans held onto Arizona’s 8th, but the Democrats outperformed expectations by 20 points. On May 25, the Democrats outperformed by 16 points in a losing effort in Montana’s at-large district.

If the wind is now coming out of the Democrats sails, there may be a few reasons. On March 13, the generic congressional ballot showed the Democrats with an eight-point advantage, according to the RealClearPolitics average of polls. That is now at 5.9 percent.

The Democrats seem to be at war with one another, with progressives pitted against moderates. In the country as a whole, optimism has been swelling about an economy delivering jobs and, lately, raises.