Kansas outcome a warning to GOP as Georgia contest nears

Bruno Cirelli
Aprile 21, 2017

But he came within 7 points in one of the most Republican districts in the nation.

Democrats are absolutely thrilled about what that says about their party in the era of Trump - with good reason.

In a further warning sign for Republicans, Estes narrowly lost the district's most populous county around the city of Wichita to his Democratic opponent James Thompson, a political newcomer.

But there were 150,000 more votes cast in the district in 2016 than this special election. But it's the best evidence we've got that right now, voters in traditionally Republican districts aren't thrilled with Trump. Estes, a businessman who entered politics in 2004, had only ever won landslides in the 4th District for state office. Price was re-elected with 61.7 percent of the vote in November.

In the 4th District, Republicans outnumber Democrats about 187,000 to 96,000, with 140,000 unaffiliated voters.

The only time since at least 1993 that a candidate - Democrat or Republican - has outperformed their party this early in the two-year election cycle was following Obama's re-election victory, in the special election to replace Rep. "We tried to make that selling point". Estes defeated civil rights lawyer James Thompson by seven percentage points, suggesting some backlash against Republicans since November. "It probably took all three to get Thompson this close".

The contest showed the massive shift in the electorate since voters elected Donald Trump President in November.

The 4th District special election is the first of five House elections that are taking place through the end of June.

Republicans prevailed, but the GOP candidate didn't win so much as he survived.

"When they think about choices, they tend to think big choices: change versus status quo", Rothenberg said. There is no message to be sent when only a quarter of the electorate bothers to vote.

Seen through that lens, Thompson's 7-point loss should have Republicans across the country very anxious. Trump said in a tweet Wednesday morning. Sanders crushed Hillary Clinton here in the 2016 caucuses, and many Sanders activists stayed inside the party to win leadership positions. It should have never been on the table, and yet they barely clung onto the seat.

Tuesday's vote in Kansas is the first of several special elections this year that will fill congressional seats vacated by Trump appointments.

But the race became surprisingly competitive and drove Republican leaders into a last minute push for Estes. The pundits who said the race would be close were correct.

But in a sign of nervousness, Republicans poured money into the race late to bolster Estes.

Cruz, who made a Monday trip to Wichita, told the radio host that he stumped for GOP candidate Ron Estes because "the numbers were looking close" - and that his party should view the narrow margin as a red flag.

"This should be a wakeup call to the administration and the Republican Congress", the lawmaker said. But given the nature of this district, Thompson holding Estes to a mid-single-digit win (the margin is 5.6 percent with 90 percent of the vote reporting) was pretty wonderful.

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