Your guide to the 2017 special elections results

| MaryAnn McCabe

What is a special election?

A special election is an election scheduled at a time other than the usual date for a specific purpose, often to fill a vacancy.

What makes a special election significant?

Special election results taken together have shown some predictive power over which party will do well in the next general election. Knowing that the special elections have this predictive power, we can predict, or get a sense, of which way the country is leaning. 

What makes the 2017 special elections significant?

According to data assembled by Daily Kos and mapped by Daniel Donner, Democrats have performed better than Hillary Clinton did in 27 out of 35 congressional and state-legislative special elections held this year. They have also done better than President Barack Obama's 2012 margins in 25 out of 35. Democrats were also able to take one-fourth of the seats away from Republican incumbents. 

What legislative seats flipped in 2017 as a result of the special elections?

Democrats were able to flip 14 state legislative seats from Republican to Democrat. That has not always been the case historically. Since 2011, Republicans have typically gained more seats in special elections. In 2017, Republicans were only able to flip three state legislative seats from Democrat to Republican.
Seats flipped from Democrat to Republican:
Seats flipped from Republican to Democrat:

New governors

In Virginia and New Jersey, the people voted in new governors who were the opposite of the incumbent’s political party. In Virginia, Ralph Northam (D) won the governor's race with nearly 54 percent of the vote, defeating Ed Gillespie (R). 
In New Jersey, Phil Murphy (D) prevailed in the race to replace Republican governor Chris Christie, an expected victory over Republican Kim Guadagno with 55.6 percent of the vote. Christie was term-limited. 

Flipped state chambers

The fate of the Virginia House of Delegates majority was up in the air due to a tie. The tie in Virginia was different than in most races, because this race determined whether Republicans kept control of the state House, which they’ve controlled since 1999. Virginia Democrat Shelly Simonds thought she’d won the race by a single vote. But a panel of judges ruled that a ballot — originally thrown out by officials — should be counted in favor of her opponent, Republican David Yancey. The tie was settled by placing both names in old film canisters and shuffling them in a clear bowl. Yancey won.
Washington state flipped their Senate from Republican to Democratic control. Manka Dhingra (D) won her special election to a state Senate seat, which completely changed the partisan composition of their legislative chamber. Subsequently, Dhingra’s win led the Democrats to control the entire state government. 

Ballot initiatives

In addition to the party sweep, there was also a ballot initiative victory for Democrats. For example, in Maine, voters voted 59 percent to 41 percent to expand Medicaid. This marks Maine as the first state to approve Medicaid expansion at the ballot box. 
Voters in Ohio decided not to approve an initiative that was aimed at reducing the cost of prescription drugs in the state. The measure would have capped the price of prescription drugs purchased by the state government, including Medicaid.

What does this mean for the psoriatic disease community?

Voters are not content with what they are seeing at the state level and are taking action. In Virginia, the exit polls show health care as the state’s number one issue. Health care is an important issue nationally, as the failed ACA repeal showed. People want better access to health care
As NPF’s advocacy team continues to solidify our presence and elevate the patient voice across the U.S., lawmakers are going to be more receptive than ever. The NPF’s advocacy team will also look at how these changes will impact our efforts in target states for the upcoming 2018 legislative year.  
Meanwhile, we will continue to monitor and share important election information on this blog and our website. Want to get involved? Please contact state government relations manager MaryAnn McCabe at [email protected]

Driving discovery, creating community

For more than 50 years, we’ve been driving efforts to cure psoriatic disease and improve the lives of those affected. But there’s still plenty to do! Learn how you can help our advocacy team shape the laws and policies that affect people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis – in your state and across the country. Help us raise funds to support research by joining Team NPF, where you can walk, run, cycle, play bingo or create your own fundraising event. If you or someone you love needs free, personalized support for living a healthier life with psoriatic disease, contact our Patient Navigation Center. And keep the National Psoriasis Foundation going strong by making a donation today. Together, we will find a cure.

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