Tuesday night, Republican Ron Estes won a stunning victory in Kansas over Democratic challenger James Thompson. What made it so stunning is that Estes only won by a whole whopping 6.8%. In Kansas, a state Trump took by almost 30 points and is so blood red that Republicans have turned into a post-apocalyptic hellhole under Governor Sam Brownback.
If Republicans sound extra confident today, that's because they're overcompensating to hide their panic. Let me show you what that looks like:
In order to secure this "easy" win, Republicans had to send Tea Party darling Ted Cruz to stump for a once-safe House seat, Trump had to do robocalls begging for votes and the RNC spent over one hundred thousand dollars on last minute ads flogging the abortion horse according to The Hill. Again, this was in Kansas. Kansas. That's insane.
Republicans will be pointing to the incredibly unpopular Republican governor as the reason it was so close. Brownback has fully enacted the GOP's economic agenda and the results have been the same kind of disaster Republicans always create when allowed to run amok. But that was case before Trump won the state in November. Kansas is still a smoking ruin, Brownback is still hated even by Republicans and they haven't resorted to cannibalism yet so it hasn't gotten noticeably worse.
The only thing that's changed is that Trump and the Republicans have both pissed off conservative voters by being historically bad and energized liberal voters by being historically cruel and corrupt.
Put another way, even with the extreme gerrymandering and voter suppression Republicans have in place, a 20 point swing nationwide would cost them the House and the Senate. So, yes, they're putting on a brave face today but the fear will be tangible at the RNC and in every swing district in the country. And maybe some of the not-so-swingy ones as well.
If the DNC under its new leadership has even the slightest bit of sense, they will be finding qualified candidates to run in every single Republican-held district and make them fight for every last seat. They need 24 to take back the House and Trump still has over a year left to continue to drag the Republican Party through the mud with him. This is a no brainer, hop to it, Perez!
In the meantime, two things will almost certainly happen: Republicans will throw buckets of money at the Georgia special election in which Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff is dominating the field. He's currently polling at 43%, 7% more than the next three (Republican) candidates combined. It's one thing to "easily" win in blood red Kansas but Georgia is much more purple. A Democratic win there will send shockwaves throughout the country, launching the left into a frenzy of anticipation for the midterms.
The second thing that will happen will be a mountain of voter suppression laws. In fact, I've been anticipating a comprehensive set of voter restrictions to be passed at the federal level since Trump was inaugurated. Unlike healthcare and the budget, Republicans will be united in resurrecting Jim Crow once and for all. And with Gorsuch placed on the Court in his stolen seat, it's more than likely the law will be upheld. And if not? They'll just pass even more extreme laws at the state level and "accidentally" purge millions of voters just days before the election. Maybe they'll close a few hundred more polling places (in minority neighborhoods only, of course) or maybe they just won't have enough voting machines (for minority neighborhoods only, of course).
Republicans have a whole bag of dirty tricks to employ and with a white supremacist running the Department of Justice, it's not like anyone is going to investigate them. But a 20 point swing is going to be tough to overcome, even with voter suppression. That's why the victory smiles at the RNC will seem particularly brittle today.
There are 572 days left to the 2018 elections.
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