James Thompson, the Kansas Democrat who lost in yesterday’s Special Election, offered an important piece of advice to his party: Don’t ignore the red states.
Thompson was largely written off by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), which finally allocated resources to his campaign with only two days to go. The Republicans, meanwhile, poured over $100,000 into ads and enlisted the help of Sen. Tex Cruz (R-TX), Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), President Trump and Vice President Pence.
In an interview with ThinkProgress, Thompson said:
“I just don’t want [Democrats] to write off red states just because they looked at some poll from last year’s race where somebody won by 30 points. They need to be looking at the candidates and they need to be looking at the issues.”
While Republican Ron Estes did win yesterday, the margin of victory was approximately five points. In November, Trump won that district by a margin of 27 points. Per Nate Silver, the Editor-in-Chief of FiveThirtyEight:
Estes underperformed Trump's margin by 20.3 points. If every district behaved like that, Dems would gain 122 (!) House seats next November. https://t.co/4H9AjAhF84
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) April 12, 2017
Thompson summed up the present political climate in the United States perfectly:
“I think ultraconservative Republicans anywhere in the United States need to be scared right now because we have shown that a motivated base and a well-run campaign can win. We did not lose to Estes so much as we lost to a president, a vice president, a speaker of the house, and multiple senators coming in and helping out. So in 2018 when there’s 435 races going on, he’s not going to be able to do that for everybody. I think that those congressmen and senators need to be looking at their positions on things, because there’s going to be backlash and there’s going to be people who lose their seats in 2018 as a result of it.”
Thompson noted that he will be running for the same seat in 2018. After shrinking the Republican margin by over 20 points since November with only 60 days of campaigning, imagine what he can do with 18 months to prepare. The tide is turning, and it’s not in Republicans’ favor.
Brian Tyler Cohen is a political writer, actor, and comedy sketch director. He graduated from Lehigh University with a dual degree in English and Business. He currently lives in Los Angeles.