Arizona election results signal sea change for Democratic candidates going forward

The Associated Press called the race for Lesko after state officials released tallies of more than 155,000 mail-in ballots, which represent about 75 percent of the votes expected.

Both parties poured a lot of money and resources into the campaign that followed two humiliating by-election defeats for Republicans in Alabama and Pennsylvania. The number of people who voted in the special is fairly close to the number who voted in the the district during the last midterm election, in 2014. "Winning the Arizona 8th by such a small margin portends very little margin of error for Gov. Doug Ducey and the eventual Arizona Republican Senate nominee this fall".

Democrats had been confident before the election, following surprise wins in congressional contests in Pennsylvania, Florida, Wisconsin and elsewhere.

In the end, Lesko won the reliably red district with approximately 52.6 percent of the total vote - far lower than the 63-75 percent Franks had received in his past blowout wins. "A win is a win and she's going to be in Congress and the Democrats not", the press secretary said. First, each of them has to get through the August 28 primary for the right to compete in November.

In the race's final weeks, Tipirneni argued that crossover voters would keep the race close and give her a shot at an upset. Also worth noting: Although they've been chomping into 20-point Trump districts, 23 Republican members of Congress are holding districts that Hillary Clinton won in November.

"Certainly (Democrats are) doing that already by just running a candidate in the district", that is so heavily loaded against them, he said. "Before November, we're going to have to work very hard".

Trump, a fellow Republican, praised Lesko's "big win" in a Twitter post. That's far below the approximately $10.6 million conservative groups spent on Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District, which Democrats flipped in March.

Pre-recorded calls by Trump flooded voters' phones and House Speaker Paul Ryan held fundraisers for Lesko, a former state senator. "The NRCC was proud to support her, and our targeted and early investments proved to be a difference maker in the race".

"If the only data point you had to go on was last night's #AZ08 result, you'd think a 30-40 seat Dem House gain in November would be way low", David Wasserman, the chief House expert at the Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election analysis group, wrote on Twitter.

With almost all of the early ballots counted Tuesday night, which were expected to make up the bulk of the vote, Ms. Lesko was ahead by almost six percentage points. The population in the district is older than most, with a median age of 43, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

Including Arizona 8, the average improvement for the Democrats has been 17 percentage points versus the partisan baseline.

Lesko supported the Republican 2017 tax-cut law but said it didn't do enough to simplify the tax code.

Democrats are hoping to continue their recent momentum in special elections Tuesday when voters outside of Phoenix head to the polls to fill a vacancy created when Republican Rep. Trent Franks resigned in December amid sexual harassment allegations.

  • Leroy Wright