The Importance of Special Elections

Anushka H., Contributor

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For the past few weeks, there has been a lot of talk about the special elections being held to fill the House of Representative seats left empty after President Trump’s cabinet nominations. Normally, these elections do not draw much attention as the seat is usually claimed by a member of the same party, but this past year has been anything but usual.

As opposition to Donald Trump grows, Democrats are looking to capitalize on voters’ apprehension over the current administration. Much of the Democratic base is energized and angry after such a contentious and controversial presidential election. Most special elections are occurring in typically Republican strongholds, but Democrats are hoping to change that. If they are successful in flipping the districts, the party would be reinvigorated and gain new confidence ahead of the 2018 congressional election where Democrats hope to obtain more seats in the House and Senate. Then, Republicans would need to worry about their popularity and potentially losing their majority in Congress. If the party cannot hold onto generally Republican districts, their success within swing districts would be even more insecure.

So far, the races have been extremely close. Republicans retained the seat in Kansas’ 4th district by 53% to 46% while in Georgia’s 6th district, Democrats hoped to avoid a runoff but could not achieve the necessary 50%. Instead, Jon Ossoff, the hopeful Democrat, got 48% of the vote compared to Karen Handel, the closest Republican competitor, at 20%. The future of the 6th district will have to wait until June’s election. With two other special elections in Montana and South Carolina, Democrats have an uphill battle for a win, but the results could foreshadow the fate of the 2018 election.

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The Importance of Special Elections