Alan Greenblatt is a GOVERNING correspondent.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
First of all, as Josh points out, Republicans are favored to win the two gubernatorial contests this year. For Democrats to come out ahead either in Virginia or New Jersey would require a major change in the dynamics of either race. Republicans are definitely the better bet in both states.
But the GOP is also doing quite well at the legislative level. Nearly every week, I get an email from the Republican State Leadership Committee touting a win in a special legislative election. Republicans have won 15 of those since November. Admittedly, most of those were filling vacancies left by other Republicans. Yesterday, former state Rep. Joe Negron, who lost a 2006 congressional run, held a Republican state Senate seat in Florida.
But the GOP has gained a net of five seats since November. On Monday, Joe Booth picked up the Delaware Senate seat left vacant by the death of Senate President Pro Tem Thurman Adams, beating Adams' daughter. The seat had been in Democratic hands for 40 years.
A handful of elections doesn't indicate anything for sure. But remember that the Democrats cleaned up in special legislative elections held between 2004 and 2006, which turned out to be a real portent of their big wins in 2006.
And the fact that legislative specials are relatively low-profile affairs makes the surging party's victories even more meaningful. It may show that their supporters are turning out to be more motivated to vote. And, because the candidates aren't typically well-known or receiving much media coverage, such contests are often less about the individuals running than an indication of generic support for their party.
Which bodes well for the GOP.
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