Cook says Dems over-performing in special elections by 8 percent

Cook says Dems over-performing in special elections by 8 percent

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report said Thursday that Democrats have outperformed its projections in nine House special elections this cycle and that the party could be on track to pick up more than enough seats to take back the majority.

Based on Cook’s calculations, Democrats in the nine special elections it tracked outperformed expectations by an average of 8 percent.

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Dave Wasserman, Cook’s analyst on House races, said that if Democrats performed at that level in every House district, they'd win 81 seats.

But he said this was unlikely given other variables, including that Democrats would be running against GOP incumbents in many races. Incumbents have big advantages in name recognition and usually fundraising in House races.

To come up with its calculations, Cook uses the Partisan Voting Index (PVI) in every congressional district, which measures how districts individually perform during presidential elections compared to the entire country.

“To give you an idea: if Dems were to overperform PVI by 8% in all 435 districts this November (won't happen [because] of [Republican] incumbency, etc.), they'd pick up 81 House seats — more than triple the 23 they need,” Wasserman tweeted on Thursday.

Tuesday’s special election in Ohio was the latest example of Democrats over-performing in a House special election.

Republican Troy Balderson leads Democrat Danny O’Connor by 1,564 votes in a district that President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House counsel called Trump 'King Kong' behind his back: report Trump stays out of Arizona's ugly and costly GOP fight Trump claims he instructed White House counsel to cooperate with Mueller MORE won by 11 points in 2016.

Of the nine special elections included in Cook’s calculations, Democrats over-performed the most in last year’s Kansas race and this year’s special elections in Arizona and Pennsylvania.

However, Democrats didn’t end up with many wins for all their success.

Democrats only won in Pennsylvania’s 18th District, where now-Rep. Conor Lamb (D) pulled off a massive upset against Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone.

Cook rates Ohio's 12th District with a PVI favoring Republicans by 7 percent. And in Wasserman’s calculations, O'Connor over-performed by 7 percent.

Republicans have already declared victory in Ohio despite no official call. But Democrats see good news in the tight margin since it’s a GOP strong hold that Republicans have held since 1983.

There are a total of 68 congressional districts where Democrats can argue that they face a more favorable climate than the Ohio district.

Trump lost 23 districts to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham Clinton‘Prosperity and peace’ is the winning Republican theme for midterms Mueller recommends Papadopoulos be sentenced to up to 6 months in prison Poll: Dem opponent leads Scott Walker by 5 points MORE that are held by GOP lawmakers, and he won another 45 districts represented by Republicans by a narrower margin than in Tuesday’s battleground.

Still, Republicans are touting that they’ve won eight of the nine special elections where both parties were on the ballot. Last June's special election in California’s 34th District had two Democrats vying for the open seat.

Trump unleashed a series of tweets boasting about Republican’s performances in special election. He also accused the media of downplaying the party’s success in those races.

“The Republicans have now won 8 out of 9 House Seats, yet if you listen to the Fake News Media you would think we are being clobbered,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday. “Why can’t they play it straight, so unfair to the Republican Party and in particular, your favorite President!”