News & Politics

Kentucky Democrat's Win Shows the Potential for a Huge 2018 Wave

Her opponent's numbers in the Trump-supporting district didn't even come close.

Photo Credit: KY House Democrats

Another special election, another major win for Democrats.

Linda Belcher, a teacher and school principal, sailed to victory Tuesday night in a race for a seat in the Kentucky state legislature. She won District 49 with over 68 percent of the vote, despite having lost the seat in 2016 by one point.

This large improvement in less than two years bodes well for the Democrats' chances in the midterms.

There are a few caveats to mention before anyone gets too excited about the Tuesday night win. The district is small — just under 5,000 people voted. And the circumstances of this particular vote are unique; the special election was called when Rep. Dan Johnson,  the occupant of the seat, committed suicide in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations. His wife ran to replace him and lost Tuesday night.

But special elections have consistently been swinging in Democrats' favor this cycle. As Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight notes, Democrats have been outperforming what we would expect in a normal year by 12 percentage points on average in recent special elections.

"The point is that Democrats are doing better in all types of districts with all types of candidates," Enten wrote. "You don’t see this type of consistent outperformance unless there’s an overriding pro-Democratic national factor."

Meanwhile, a new poll published Tuesday by Quinnipiac University found that Democrats are winning on a generic ballot by 15 points when voters are asked who should control Congress.

These signs suggest that, despite a recent uptick in President Donald Trump's popularity, Democrats are still poised to win big in 2018.

Cody Fenwick is a reporter and editor. Follow him on Twitter @codytfenwick.