The jaded political observer in me did not want to post about the "meaning" of the 2017 special election results because I just don't think you can generalize about special elections, but the political geek side really wanted to weigh in, and, well, my geek side is the 800 lb. gorilla that basically always gets its way.
I didn't get emotionally invested in the special elections because people just about know about them, the campaigns are rushed, the turnout is usually low, just about on a par with midterms, and I just think the idea of calling them a "referendum" on anything, especially on President Trump, is just too "early days" yet. Most of the special elections thus far have been in what count as recently historically "red" districts. Although Democratic and left-leaning independent voters might have been entirely over the idea of a "president Trump" on Day 1, Republican and conservative-leaning independent voters are just more open to the idea that parts of his agenda are worthwhile to them, and they will wait for him to grow into his role.
That said, Tuesday's losses in GA6 and SC5 don't come as an emotional blow to me. It would have been nice to pick up a seat or two--but it wouldn't have changed the balance of the House. As it is, red seats just stayed red. The composition of the House isn't more GOP than before--it's the same. And I don't really agree with some of the "takes" I'm seeing out there--this is somehow a referendum on Nancy Pelosi? I'm not sure I'm seeing that. Yes, Pelosi and her "San Francisco values" is trotted out the way disconnected 80's political slogans like "tax and spend" get trotted out. I just don't feel like the people who respond to that are the "reachable" voters, anyway.
I also don't think the results of GA6 somehow point to a need to go more decidedly liberal. Politics is local, and I think minor details like Handel having a higher political profile than newcomer Ossoff and living in the district (I hate to be petty, and can stomach a "technicality" or "nuance" argument as well as the next reasonable person; but you aren't dealing with reasonable people--you're talking about voters!) might have had a lot more to do with her win than anything Ossoff particularly stood for. And I fail to see how voters that weren't swayed against a candidate that said she didn't even believe in a living wage would be won over by the prospects of "Moar Socialism".
But for the GOP scoffers who point out that the Dems haven't eked out a win over the GOP in these special elections so far, I do want to do at least a little "scoreboard" signifying:
Democrats have covered considerable ground since just November 2016 in some of these districts. They haven't become "wins" for Democrats, but they have become competitive (I note CA is not really GOP country anymore in many locales.) In GA 6 and MT I know for sure the GOP did spend a whole lot of money.
What I think the takeaway for Dems should be is--think of wins as possible and run everywhere. Run like you want to win. For the party: stop being sad sacks and apocalyptic in fundraising, and just look to recruit great folks who are a good fit for their area and run the election like no one outside the location is watching. Take their money, but between you and me--I can't stand purity politics. Purity is for food safety and pharmaceuticals. I'm with Ronald Reagan, if I agree with a candidate 80% of the time, he isn't 20% my enemy--we just have a debate.
Maybe there is a leftist battle or reformation coming eventually, but for the love of mutts, I'd just like to win some elections and get control of congress back first, TBH.