Amanda Murphy’s expected, yet significant victory in the HD-36 Special Election creates a great deal of momentum for Democrats heading into a critical election year. It also brings Democratic numbers to 45 in the State House for the first time since before the 2000 election. This high-water mark still leaves Democrats in a 30 seat hole in the lower chamber, but does indicate the minimal progress of the 2012 election is not going to be automatically given back in 2014 as some expected.
Additionally, Murphy’s victory indicates Democrats can win the types of districts outside major urban counties that despite favorable trends they have been largely unable to capture in recent years.
Running against a flawed Republican helped, particularly in a national environment that has turned especially unfavorable towards the GOP in the last two weeks. But more importantly, the turnout effort and targeting of voters by Democrats in this race indicated major progress from the missed opportunities in similar styled districts that characterized the 2012 election.
In 2012, the Democrats left at minimum a half dozen House seats on the table due to poor targeting, a failure to keep a finger on the pulse locally in districts and flawed campaign messaging. Today, the Democrats showed they could learn from past mistakes and run a tight campaign despite an onslaught of negative media in the last few days of the race.
Much more on this election later.