Rob Quist didn’t win, but here are 5 big reasons for Democrats to be happy after the Montana special House election.
1). A 6 Point Republican Win In a State Trump Won By 21
Gianforte was able to squeak out a win, but barely. Democrats don’t need to win these special elections to prove their momentum. As in the Kansas House special election, the Republican candidate underperformed Trump’s 2016 victory by a large margin. It is important to keep in mind that these special elections are in places that were handpicked by the Trump administration. Democrats aren’t supposed to win these races, much less be competitive in them. Keep in mind that Democrats scored no upsets wins in the period before their last congressional takeover, and Republicans scored one victory before their 2010 congressional takeover. These sort of victories are rare. The fact that Democrats were so competitive in Montana is proof of real energy on the Democratic side heading into 2018.
2). Republicans Are Spending An Unsustainable Amount Of Money In These Special Elections
Republicans and affiliated outside groups spent at least $17 million to defend a seat in a state that Trump won by 21 points. Republicans dumped big sums of cash, relatively speaking, into a House special election in Kansas. The Georgia special election is already the most expensive in history, with Republicans spending tens of millions of dollars on a seat that they have held since 1979. The extreme level of spending shows weakness and difficulty motivating their supporters. When Republicans have to defend their full House and try to defend and pick up Senate seats next year, there won’t be enough money to paper over their problems.
3). Republicans Have A Trumpcare Problem
Rob Quist ran on health care in a place known for its conservatism. Rob Quist almost won. Some pundits will try to sweep the health care issue under the rug in order to whistle through the graveyard by talking about Trump’s coattails, Pelosi, or some other DC-based narrative, but the truth of the matter is that the Democrat ran on healthcare and shaved 15 points off of Trump’s victory margin in 2016. If this pattern repeats itself in swing districts, Republicans will lose a lot of seats.
4). The Same Montana Seat Will Be Up Again In 2018
Democrats see weakness in the small margin of Gianforte’s win and are promising to challenge him again in 2018. DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján said in a statement, “Unfortunately, the alleged violent assault of an innocent reporter and subsequent criminal charges have tainted this election at the very end and further clarified that Greg Gianforte is unfit to represent Montana. There’s no question in my mind that Gianforte should not be sworn into office. Regardless of what happens next, we will be competing hard for this seat in 2018.”
5). The Wins Will Come For Democrats
Trump has unified the left. A year ago at this time, Democrats were still divided and discussing issues like the best plan to pay for free college for all. Today, the left is on the same page and working together to defeat Trump. The Montana special election is a reminder that there is no magic message or level of spending that converts Republicans in deep red states to Democrats. Change happens through years of hard work and party building. Democrats are progressing by leaps and bounds in places like Kansas and Montana. The process in Georgia is more advanced, and that is where Democrats have their best chance of getting a special election win.