With all eyes on the House race in Georgia’s Sixth District on Tuesday night, one state over Republicans eked out a win in another special election to fill a congressional seat vacated by a member of the Trump administration.
Republican Ralph Norman will succeed Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney as the representative from South Carolina’s Fifth District. Norman had 52 percent of the vote and Democrat Archie Parnell had 48 percent when the AP called the race, with 89 percent of precincts reporting.
While Republicans have fended off another attempt to turn a House seat blue, there’s actually good news for Democrats in that result. In November, Mulvaney won reelection by 21 points, and Donald Trump had an 18-point lead over Hillary Clinton.
As New York’s Ed Kilgore explained, part of the reason the South Carolina special election was largely ignored by the national parties was that the large Republican margin in the district was seen as insurmountable. (Plus, compared to Georgia’s special election, the South Carolina race was seen as less demographically advantageous for Democrats, and former Goldman Sachs and ExxonMobil employee Archie Parnell did not inspire the same grassroots enthusiasm as up-and-comer Jon Ossoff.)
While Georgia’s special election was the most expensive House race in history, Parnell managed to come within a few points of Norman with only $250,000 from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Plus, while Norman embraced Trump’s policies and the president returned the favor with a robocall and Twitter endorsement, it wasn’t enough to give Norman a big lead.
Those facts will raise questions about why national Democrats didn’t invest more in the South Carolina race, but they’ll also add fuel the left’s hopes for an anti-Trump backlash in the midterms.