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Dems keep their winning streak going in state special elections

Democrats have had considerable success in state special elections this year, but nearly everyone was surprised by the party's massive gains yesterday.
A voter steps into a voting booth to mark his ballot at a polling site for the New Hampshire primary, Feb. 9, 2016, in Nashua, N.H. (Photo by David Goldman/AP)
A voter steps into a voting booth to mark his ballot at a polling site for the New Hampshire primary, Feb. 9, 2016, in Nashua, N.H.

As of September, Democrats had already flipped eight state legislative seats in 2017 from "red" to "blue" -- three in Oklahoma, three in New Hampshire, and one each in New York and Florida -- on top of a series of other victories.

As Vox noted, the party flipped two more in Georgia yesterday.

As part of a larger wave of Democratic wins on Election Day 2017, Democrats picked up two seats in special elections held for Georgia's House of Delegates.Deborah Gonzales won House District 117 with 53 percent of the vote and Jonathan Wallace won House District 119 with 56 percent of the vote. Both seats are in the Athens area and both were vacant, hence the special elections. But not only were the two seats previously held by Republican incumbents, they were uncontested in the 2016 elections.

That last point is of particular interest. These districts weren't seen as especially competitive, to the point that Democrats didn't even bother fielding candidates in these state legislative races as recently as last year. And yet, yesterday, Dems won both.

This doesn't dramatically change the makeup of Georgia's state House -- there's still a sizable GOP majority -- but the Democratic victories mean that Republicans no longer enjoy a super-majority in the chamber.

And speaking of special elections in which Dems flipped a seat, Manka Dhingra (D) easily won a state Senate race in her Seattle-area district, which means Democrats will take control of the chamber. Just as importantly, Dems will now oversee Washington's executive and legislative branches -- the same power it holds in nearby California and Oregon -- becoming only the seventh state in which Democrats currently have this power.

According to a tally from the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which focuses on Democratic state legislative races, Dem candidates also flipped two seats in New Jersey and one in New Hampshire.

And then, of course, there's Virginia, which didn't hold special elections, but rather, hosted its usual off-year elections. And as the Richmond Times Dispatch reported, "Virginia Democrats are poised to claim at least a share of control of the House of Delegates after erasing a 32-seat Republican advantage in a 'tsunami election,' with control of the chamber likely to be ultimately decided by vote recounts."

The DLCC noted in a press release that Democrats had the most pickups in Virginia's House of Delegates since 1899.

Throughout the Obama era, Dems struggled badly in state legislative elections, giving Republicans a considerable national advantage. In the Trump era, that's changing quickly.