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Special elections continue to deliver good news for Democrats

The 2016 elections didn't go the way Democrats had hoped, but some early 2017 elections have offered the party more hope.
A voter fills out her ballot at a polling center on April 26, 2016 in Stamford, Conn. (Photo by John Moore/Getty)
A voter fills out her ballot at a polling center on April 26, 2016 in Stamford, Conn.
While Donald Trump had the political world's attention last night, election results were coming in about 400 miles away that the president probably didn't like. The Connecticut Mirror reported on the results of three legislative special elections in the Nutmeg State, which at first glance may appear anodyne, but there's a context to this that matters.

In three special elections Tuesday night, Connecticut voters did nothing to shift the balance of power in the evenly split Senate or closely divided House, despite furious efforts to make one race a referendum on President Trump and another on Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. [...]With the ability of Democratic Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman to break tie votes in the 18-18 Senate, Connecticut remains one of just a half-dozen states with a Democratic governor and state legislature.

Connecticut was home to three special elections yesterday: a state Senate race in a "blue" district; a state Senate race in a "red" district; and a state House race in a different "blue" district. In the upper chamber, control of the state Senate was on the line -- and if Republicans had taken control in a Democratic state a month into the Trump era, it would've been an embarrassing setback for the party.That didn't happen: Dems won where they were supposed to win, and the Republican won where he was supposed to win. But taking a closer look at the results, note that the GOP state senator, in Connecticut's most Republican-friendly district, won a modest, 10-point victory. The Connecticut Mirror report added that Democrats yesterday saw their strongest performance in this district "in decades."This came in response to Democratic efforts to nationalize the local race. Michael Mandell, the executive director of the Connecticut Democratic Party, was quoted saying, "Coming from a 35-point defeat in November, this is a clear signal that the people of that district came out with energy to work hard and organize and show they would not be in support of President Trump's agenda."There's a lot of this going around.
As we discussed the other day, there have been a handful of special elections so far in 2017, and they've all looked pretty good for the Dems. In early February, a Democrat won a special election in an Iowa state House district, and a week later, a Dem cruised to an easy victory in a special election in a Virginia state House district.This past weekend, a Democrat won a Delaware state Senate race that kept the chamber "blue."There was a special legislative election in Minnesota two weeks ago, which a Republican won, but it was in one of the state's most GOP-dominant districts, and the Republican prevailed by a much-narrower-than-expected margin.Sure, it's early, and a lot can (and will) happen in the coming months. No one should suggest these early state legislative races represent evidence of a Democratic "wave" that may or may not materialize, because we just don't know yet. There's just too much time on the clock.That said, Democrats who were dejected after the 2016 elections have reason to be pleased with the results so far in the 2017 elections. For Republicans in competitive districts, wondering whether or not it's wise to follow Donald Trump's lead, it'd be foolish to ignore these special elections.