So that’s that: The Republican won in Georgia 6, and the Republican won in South Carolina 5. We’ll have more to say Wednesday on what the results portend, but that does it for our live blog coverage.
Before we go, though, I asked FiveThirtyEighters for their main takeaway(s) from the results tonight. Here’s what they had to say:
Harry: Democrats have to be disappointed by the final result in Georgia. I don’t think there’s any other way to put it. They didn’t want another moral victory. The “reluctant” Trump vote is still mostly with President Trump — at least in Georgia 6. Of course, I’ll say what I have always said. We look at all the special elections, and we average them together. The South Carolina 5 result was good for Democrats. We’ll have more special election results over the months to come. We’ll see where those land.
Nate: For me, this is sort of the maximally “well, actually…” outcome. By which I mean it’s liable to be pretty demoralizing for Democrats and lead to some pretty bad headlines. But … well, actually … if you’re using special elections as benchmarks for what might happen in 2018, Democrats’ overperformance in South Carolina 5 is as impressive as Republicans’ holding on in Georgia 6. To the extent that the results could matter for things like the health care vote, it’s a good night for Republicans. To the extent that we’re forecasting 2018, I’m really not so sure.
Clare: I think Georgia 6, that reluctant Trump district, really lined up with what our surveys have said about reluctant Trump voters — that they’re still with him/the Republican Party, if only tepidly. I also think that money and hyped national attention can have a distorting effect on a race.
Perry: My main takeaway is to wonder how all this will affect the political agenda. Nate wrote about how the Georgia race might affect the health care vote in the Senate. I’m curious to see how it affects other things happening in Washington as well. The media has gotten more aggressive, not only on the Russia investigation, but also by describing how Trump/Republicans are violating norms. CNN’s White House reporter, for example, was slamming the administration on Monday for not allowing press briefings to be on camera or even recorded on audio. The Washington Post had a big story highlighting the closed-door health care process and other moves made by Trump and congressional Republicans that limited transparency. Media coverage, in my experience, gets tougher when a politician or party has low approval ratings. Trump is still in a weak position. But it’s not clear that congressional Republicans are, particularly, after tonight. I think how the media, along with Democrats in Congress, perceive the Handel win is just as important as tonight’s results.
Dave: I think a lot of people are going to be interpreting this result as a disaster for Democrats. Here’s why I think it’s not: 1. Special elections are often lagging, not leading, indicators. In 2010, Democrats surprisingly (and convincingly) held on to a southwestern Pennsylvania seat that John McCain had carried just five months before losing their House majority. The reason? The voters who showed up were ancestrally Democratic — almost a mirror image of what we saw tonight. 2. Turnout in the Georgia 6 special election was much higher than it’s likely to be in most districts in November 2018. That’s good news for Democrats, because they saw a surprisingly strong result tonight in South Carolina 5, where turnout was abysmal. As a rule, Democrats are more fired up than Republicans right now. So the more both sides turn out, Republicans stand to gain.