Tonight, Delaware hosted a special election in state senate district 10, a Democratic leaning district that looks competitive. At least on paper. The district narrowly elected a Democrat in 2014 by a slim 2 percent but voted for Hillary Clinton by 13 percent. Donald Trump only received 41 percent of the vote last November.
Delaware is a solidly Democratic state at every level. The state legislature is Democratic and all statewide elected officials (federal and Constitutional) are Democrats. Democrats have controlled the state senate for 40 years running. That said, due to GOP gains in the state senate last year and a new Democratic Governor ceding his seat the senate was split 10-10 until tonight.
Democrats and progressives put a lot of effort into the race. The GOP? Not so much. Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley came into the district to campaign as did Joe Biden. Nobody showed up for Republicans. Democrats outspent Republicans 4-1 in the district. The result was an 18 point win for the blue team. Now the party can continue to safely tax Delaware into oblivion.
What does this tell us? Nothing. Literally. Democrats and progressives reading the tea leaves are sure to call it a great victory and a repudiation of GOP politics. But, the fact of the matter is the playing field was never level. Democrats knew they had to win the race and did. But the district is far from an honest testing ground of whether voters truly are repudiating the man in the White House, and by extension his party, or not.
The question going forward is how much will be read into this election? Democrats have demonstrated success in blue leaning legislative special elections since November but they have yet to show they have made inroads in GOP territory. The special election for Tom Price’s suburban Atlanta based district will tell us far more.