Republican Ron Estes was able to keep Kansas’ 4th Congressional District in GOP hands. However, the margin of victory in such a deep-red district should serve as an alarm bell for Republicans across the country.
Kansas State Treasurer Ron Estes bested his Democratic opponent James Thompson in a special election on April 11 – delivering another blow to national Democrats as their Party is still reeling from the brutal 2016 outcome. Kansas’ 4th District is a traditional Republican stronghold. President Trump won the area by 27 points while then-Rep. Mike Pompeo won by over 30 points. Back in 2012, Romney also dominated by a 25-point margin.
Surprisingly, Representative-Elect Estes only won the district by about seven points – a poor showing for a Republican and a clear indication Democrats are energized under the Trump era.
The outcome may paint a picture of what to expect in Georgia’s special election next week and for the not-so-distant 2018 mid-terms. In Georgia, Democrat Jon Ossoff is also polling well for such a conservative district. Should Republicans be worried that Democrats are performing so well in deep-red territory?
The short answer: yes. The long answer, though, is more complicated.
Ron Estes’ victory was shockingly competitive, but it may not be totally indicative of an unpopular president. In Kansas, Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is one of the most unpopular governors in the country as he is blamed for major setbacks in the Kansas state budget. The special congressional election may have been more of a referendum on Gov. Brownback than on President Trump – making the election there not completely relatable to elections elsewhere across the country.
And like Kansas, Georgias’ 6th Congressional District is unlikely to flip. Ossoff will surely make it to the run-off, but polling doesn’t indicate he will capture the district once the GOP coalesces to one specific candidate.
Despite whatever local politics may be at play in Kansas, one thing is for certain: Democrats are itching for a win.