“There are 222 House seats that are better in terms of the Biden vote than New York’s 19,” said Sean Patrick Maloney, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “He’s the canary in the coal mine for what’s to come. And this isn’t the first time, okay, we’ve seen this happen,” pointing to special elections in Minnesota and Nebraska and an abortion-rights referendum in Kansas.
Indeed, Ryan’s victory is part of a series of four special elections in three states showing growing suburban enthusiasm for Democrats since the Supreme Court ruling. Dobbs decision, which overturned the national protection of the right to abortion previously granted under Roe v. Wade.
“When we really stand up and fight and say what our principles are and don’t take our shots, we inspire people, we motivate and energize people, and we win,” Ryan said in a Tuesday interview with POLITICO.
Here’s what happened in these four districts – and what they tell us about the changing political environment.
In the closely guarded 19th congressional district, a rare special election in a true swing district, Ryan won about 51.1% of the vote, according to unofficial results as of midday Wednesday. New York continues to accept mail-in ballots postmarked on Election Day for seven days afterward.
Ryan’s performance was about 1.5 percentage points better than Biden’s 2020 performance in the district, although several points behind former Rep. Antonio Delgado’s margin that year. The jump was prompted by strong Democratic turnout from voters who also contested primaries for full terms in the newly redrawn 18th and 19th districts (parts of both are included in the former 19th where the special was held .) In six of the seven counties entirely within the district boundaries, the share of Democratic voters who voted in the primaries was higher than the share of all registered voters who voted in the special election – suggesting that Democrats turned out at higher rates than Republicans or Independents.
Republicans insist they are not worried about the loss, blaming it largely on weak interest from non-party-aligned voters, who are likely to turn out at much higher rates in November . Those independents — who will determine dozens of swing seats in the fall — had less incentive to participate in a special election held the same day as the party’s closed primaries in New York, in which they cannot vote.
“Any Democrat celebrating holding a seat they won last cycle by double digits is expecting a tough November,” said Michael McAdams, spokesman for the Republican National Committee of Congress, referring to Delgado’s 2020 margin. “We will continue to remind voters that Democrats are responsible for historic price increases, rising violent crime and a southern border that has been completely overrun by drug cartels and smugglers.”
Unofficial results show defeated Republican Marc Molinaro actually received a higher vote share than most recent Republican candidates in virtually every corner of the district. But the difference was that turnout in his pro-Democrat parties was much higher.
“People see every major election,” said State Senator Michelle Hinchey, a Democrat from Ulster. “The decisions of the past few months have really re-engaged people and prepared them for what’s at stake right now. And it’s not business as usual. »
Democrats actually made bigger gains from 2020 in Western New York’s 23rd District, where Max Della Pia got 46.4% of the special election vote, according to unofficial results. That’s more than 3 percentage points better than Biden’s performance two years ago, but not enough to beat Republican Joseph Sempolinski, who will fill the seat vacated by former GOP Rep. Tom Reed.
The biggest gain for Democrats in vote share came in Tompkins County, home of Ithaca, where Della Pia won 85% of the vote to Joe Biden’s 73% two years prior.
Ryan’s special election victory was the first real Democratic special election win this summer, after candidates in Nebraska and Minnesota outperformed Biden’s numbers – but failed to pick up victories in districts that had been owned by Republicans. In southern Minnesota, Democrat Jeff Ettinger was about 3 percentage points ahead of Biden’s margin in 2020, though that still wasn’t enough to pass Brad Finstad, a Republican who filled the seat vacated by the late Rep. Jim Hagedorn.
While the self-funded Ettinger outspent Finstad, the race attracted little outside spending, all in support of the Republican. That frustrated some Minnesota Democrats who thought they had a chance of overturning a rare vacant seat following the Dobbs vs. Jackson decision, said Ken Martin, president of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labour Party.
“As that decision came out, you started hearing people at the doors,” Martin said.
In a special election at the end of June, just days after the Dobbs In office, Democrat Patty Pansing Brooks, State of Nebraska, improved Biden’s margin by nearly five points in the state’s dark red 1st Congressional District, which Trump had won by 11 percentage points. . She still failed against Now-Rep. Mike Flood.
Pansing Brooks’ biggest wins have come in populous Lancaster County, which contains the state capital of Lincoln. She won 56.6% of the vote there in the special election, compared to 52.7% for Biden two years before.
In the final days of the race, Pansing Brooks released a TV ad in which she pledged to fend off a “Supreme Court assault on women’s rights” – despite warnings from some of her advisers. She attributes her narrow margin to the shocking decision and said she wished she had had more time for the news to sink in with the electorate ahead of the special election.
“I’ve done better than any Democrat since 1964 in my congressional district,” she said. “I beat Biden by 5 points. I beat the predecessor who was a Democrat by 13 points. We really felt like the momentum was there.