Special or Not, All Elections Matter

(Bloomberg View) -- After a quiet month for elections so far -- nothing on the primary calendar until May -- it's time for some specials. 

The big one today is Arizona's 8th District. It's about as Republican as the Pennsylvania district Democrats won earlier this year, but a similar result isn't expected. FiveThirtyEight's Nathaniel Rakich has a good rundown of the race. Most people expect Democrat Hiral Tipirneni to do better than her party normally does there, but she's unlikely to come especially close to defeating Republican Debbie Lesko.

It's worth noting that not only is this a rare case of Republicans selecting a woman as their candidate in a competitive district, but it's the second time in a special during this cycle after Karen Handel held Georgia's 6th District last June. It's also worth noting that the winner will replace Trent Franks, who resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment

The attention is going to be on Arizona because it's a U.S. House race and because Arizona will be a very important state in November, with a key Senate contest, a gubernatorial election and some competitive House races. Cook Political Report's Dave Wasserman looks at it in these terms:

Dave Wasserman @Redistrict
What's a good showing for Hiral Tipirneni (D) in #AZ08 on Tuesday? Probably 43%-47%. Really anything above ~41% in… https://t.co/Blb3qozbpH

Yes, but. It's still not clear to me that special elections tell us anything we don't already know about the president's approval rating and from generic ballot polling. The best way to look at specials is in the aggregate, so at this point, we already have whatever information they contain. That said, of course it's correct that -- to the extent anyone does use specials to predict November -- it's important to adjust for a specific district. 

Meanwhile, there are 11 -- count 'em, 11 -- legislative special elections today in New York: two in the state Senate, and nine in the Assembly. Democrats should hold both Senate seats; they're important in the continuing fight over party control of that body. That's important not just for U.S. House redistricting, but also because New York is a large state that has lagged behind some other Democratic states in adopting liberal legislation. As for the other New York specials? Well, new legislators aren't just partisan hacks. At least, some won't be. They will be the ones who file new bills or specialize in cutting the deals that get other legislators' bills over the finish line. Elections matter -- if they tip the partisan balance, and even when they don't. 

1. Seth Masket isn't impressed with the way Colorado Republicans are choosing candidates

2. Lauren M. MacLean, Jennifer N. Brass, Elizabeth Baldwin and Christopher Gore at the Monkey Cage on the political solution for Cape Town's water crisis

3. My Bloomberg View colleague Timothy L. O'Brien on President Donald Trump's phony stories about his own wealth and why they matter now. 

4. Jonathan Chait raises a point worth considering about women who are running for president.

6. And Fred Kaplan is getting more worried about Trump and North Korea

Get Early Returns every morning in your inbox. Click here to subscribe.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Jonathan Bernstein is a Bloomberg View columnist. He taught political science at the University of Texas at San Antonio and DePauw University and wrote A Plain Blog About Politics.

To contact the author of this story: Jonathan Bernstein at jbernstein62@bloomberg.net.

For more columns from Bloomberg View, visit http://www.bloomberg.com/view.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.