Blue wave receding? Republican easily wins Texas special election
Democrats have pinned their hopes on a blue wave that would bury Republicans in November by taking making inroads into solid GOP territory in states like Texas, California, and Florida.
The California primaries last month showed that Democrats are likely to make gains in the House, but fall short of achieving a dominant "wave" election. They may not even retake the House, as Republicans appear to have recovered a bit from some special election losses earlier in the spring.
But results from a special election in Texas should allow the Republicans to breathe a bit easier. In the race to replace GOP Rep. Blake Farenthold who resigned last spring in disgrace, a little known Republican, Michael Cloud won 53% of the vote, avoiding a runoff with the Democrat, Eric Holguin, who got only 32%.
Trump carried the district in 2016 by 24 points, so Cloud's 22 point victory was welcome news.
Farenthold resigned his seat in April, amid a House Ethics investigation following revelations that he used taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment case. Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott called the special election earlier than state law stipulates because the Gulf Coast-area district was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey, and Abbott said it needed representation in Congress.
Cloud had the endorsement of the conservative Club for Growth PAC as well as the campaign arm of the House Freedom Caucus.
He and Holguin will face off again in November, since they are their party’s respective nominees in the general election. But in the meantime, Cloud will head to Congress to serve out the last few months of Farenthold’s term.
He is expected to be in a strong position to win again in November. President Donald Trump carried the district by 24 points in 2016. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the general election Solid Republican.
It's not surprising that Cloud came out on top. But in a wave election, it would have been a lot closer than 22 points.
If Republicans can win the districts they're supposed to - districts carried by Trump in 2016 - the chances of a blue wave washing over the country are dramatically reduced.
Again, this doesn't mean that Democrats can't retake the House. They only need to net 24 House seats for victory. But in the expectations game, anything less than 40 or 50 seats will be a disappointment for Democrats.
Republicans have narrowed the gap in the generic congressional ballot, down from a double digit deficit a few months ago to less than 5 points in most polls today. But most pollsters give the Democrats a better than even chance to retake the House, albeit by a narrow margin.