On Monday, May 11, you could feel the excited anticipation in the headline of the pro-Democrat political site, fivethirtyeight.com (the site’s name refers to the Electoral College vote, of course):
Two Special Elections On Tuesday Could
Hint At Another Blue Wave In 2020
The introduction of the article kept up the breathless pace, with a litany of how Biden is leading Trump in the early polls, and how the administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic is sinking Republican prospects “across the board.” If the Democrats did well in two congressional special elections the next day, we were told, “it could signal another blue wave in the fall.
The contest in California’s 25th Congressional District pitted Democrat Christy Smith versus Republican Mike Garcia. This was one of the formerly GOP suburban seats won by the Democrats in the 2018 blue wave. The special election was precipitated by the resignation of Democratic Rep. Katie Hill after she admitted to an affair with a member of her staff.
“The contest looks close,” we were told, and “election handicappers rate it a toss-up.” “There’s a lot at stake in the California 25th,” the site concluded.
So, what happened on Tuesday? Not close at all:
Republican Mike Garcia 82,321 votes (56.0%)
Democrat Christy Smith 64,671 votes (44.0%)
That’s with 338 of 411 precincts reporting, so the final tabulation is not likely to change the outcome and Smith quickly conceded the race.
The state’s 7th Congressional District in rural northern Wisconsin has voted Republican recently, and fivethirtyeight.com conceded it has become “Republican turf,” pitting GOP candidate Tom Tiffany against Democrat Tricia Zunker. Still, the site held out hope for Democrats: “When a party consistently overperforms its usual partisan baseline in special elections, it bodes well for that party in the general election as well. So even a narrow loss by Zunker, if paired with a comfortable Smith win, would add to the evidence that another Democratic wave is building.”
Fast-forward to Tuesday, and the results with all precincts reporting:
Republican Tom Tiffany 109,594 votes (57.2%)
Democrat Tricia Zunker 81,955 votes (42.8%)
Oops! No “narrow loss” for Democrat Zunker in Wisconsin.
Oops! No “comfortable win” for Democrat Christy Smith in California (instead a decisive loss).
Oops! Cancel that “signal [for] another blue wave in the fall.”