Democratic losses in four special House elections since April show the electoral landscape now remains much the same as when President Donald Trump took office five months ago.
Ordinarily you’d expect that to be the case. But these are supposed to be politically volatile times, when someone dodging disaster attracts attention.
Amid record total spending in Georgia’s Sixth District on Tuesday, Republican candidate Karen Handel prevailed with 51 percent against Democrat Jon Ossoff.
Handel’s win echoed those in previous special congressional contests in Kansas and Montana. Also Tuesday, another Republican was elected in South Carolina to succeed White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.
That meant instant crowing rights for Trump. And it averted the need for him or anyone else in the White House to invent one of those post-setback excuses.
Of course, Georgia 6 is a very red district in a very red state. Republican Tom Price vacated the seat to become Trump’s secretary of Health and Human Services.
While either party usually is favored to hold on to what they have, professional Democrats once again took a blow.
Despite all the anti-Trump demonstrations, the president’s bad poll numbers, extended anxiety over health care and complications over Russia, the GOP held home turf.
The impact will be gauged on several levels.
The special-election sweep gives the GOP majority in Congress a boost heading into midterm elections next year and the current legislative year.
Republican stalwarts who are so inclined can now argue with more confidence that the prospect of Obamacare repeal or a rollback of environmental regulations, won’t hurt them.
“We need to finish the drill on health care,” Handel told supporters in her victory speech amid chants of “Trump!”
Looking ahead, there are expectations that the incumbent party will lose seats in 2018, the middle of its president’s term,
That’s the tradition no matter who’s in the White House. But there are no guarantees.
On the Democratic side, you’ll hear continued scrapping over how to craft campaign issues. Ossoff months ago signaled that he’d mount a progressive campaign while trying to avoid alienating suburban, middle-class voters. It fell short.
GOP campaigners sought to tie Ossoff to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). That may have worked to some degree, but congressional caucus leaders usually are unpopular outside their own districts. It’s an old tactic employed at different times by both sides.
On the national scene, the bottom line is that, for now, we are seeing no effective incursion into traditional Republican territory.
Winning where expected may not usually be an earthshaking development. But these days, continuity itself may be newsworthy.