After a closer-than-expected, heartening result in the election to fill CIA Director Mike Pompeo's vacated congressional seat last week, Democrats nationwide see a substantial opportunity to send a message to Washington today. In a special election to fill Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price's (and formerly House Speaker Newt Gingrich's) seat in Congress, Democratic support has consolidated behind Jon Ossoff, a former aide and staffer for Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga.
While the Republican National Committee has remained wary of favoring any one of its 11 candidates too strongly, the Democratic base has gone all in for Ossoff, who has raised a whopping $8.2 million.
As an electoral test within the first 100 days of the Trump administration, pundits are viewing this contest, just as they did the showdown in Kansas, through the lens of it being a referendum on the president and his policies. And with the famous GOP leaders who have previously held the seat, and the fact that it hasn't belonged to a Democrat since 1979, the optics of a defeat would not be ideal for the president or his party.
Whatever those results may ultimately be, however, they should probably be taken with a grain of salt, as this is not your grandfather's (or Newt Gingrich's) 6th District. As Nate Silver pointed out over at FiveThirtyEight, this congressional district was one Trump only won by 1.5 percent back in November. The district has the highest percentage of college graduates in the state of Georgia, according to Emory University political scientist Alan Abromowitz. In the 2016 election, college education was perhaps the key dividing line between Clinton and Trump voters.
So, while a win in a place that has been red for almost 40 years and a state that Democrats see as a potential 2020 pickup would be an inarguable positive for the anti-Trump resistance, it's difficult to tell whether this specific district is emblematic of anything other than an electorate that has changed, somewhat dramatically, in the Trump era. As recently as 2012, Mitt Romney defeated President Barack Obama here by 23 points.
The facts about midterm and off-year elections being unkind to sitting presidents are well established, but winning this district would be more of a public relations victory for Democrats than anything else. Simply put, coalescing around one incredibly well-funded candidate in an increasingly competitive district and against a crowd of opponents essentially canceling each other out is not the political earthquake it's being billed as.
The Kansas fourth district result, on the other hand, should be a lot spookier for President Trump and the GOP, as Nate Cohn noted in The New York Times last week. In the span of 5 months, Trump and Republicans lost 20 points there. Regardless of today's, and potentially a June 20 runoff's, result, the Republican Party needs to be asking its own version of the question, "What's the Matter with Kansas?" and fast. Otherwise, that once formidable 2018 map could start to look precarious, and Trump's movement may find itself running into a wall it's not in favor of.
Tamer Abouras (@iamtamerabouras) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is a writer and editor from Williamstown, N.J.
If you would like to write an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, please read our guidelines on submissions here.