Karen Handel wins Georgia special election

Jonathan Martin and Richard Fausset, reporting for the New York Times:

Ms. Handel, 55, fended off Jon Ossoff, a 30-year-old Democrat and political newcomer who emerged from obscurity to raise $25 million from progressives across the country eager to express their anger at Mr. Trump. That fervor quickly elevated what would otherwise have been a sleepy local race into a high-stakes referendum on Mr. Trump and the most expensive House campaign in history.

The victory for Ms. Handel, a former Georgia secretary of state and Fulton County official, averted a humiliating upset for Republicans in an affluent, suburban Atlanta seat they have held for nearly 40 years. And it showed that Republicans skeptical of Mr. Trump remain comfortable supporting more conventional candidates from their party.

It looks like Ossof is going to lose by somewhere around a five-point margin. Republicans had just won this district by 23 points in the general election. This was the Democrats last, best hope to take a seat in the House before the 2018 mid-term elections. Today's results proved a tough loss for Dems, but the general voting trends of the last couple of months point to Republicans losing major ground in what have been traditionally deep red states.

The question facing the Democratic leadership is whether they can find enough strong candidates from an admittedly shallow bench, and a message that resonates with disenfranchised voters - both working class Democrats and frustrated moderate Republicans - to actually have a shot of taking back a majority in either house of Congress. 

For Republicans this was a hard earned win, and worth celebrating, but also a reminder that there are no safe seats come next November. Things will be different in the midterms, the party will not be able to pour all of its resources into a handful of races. I have no doubt that Republicans will raise an amount of money that is almost impossible to imagine, but the trick for them will be knowing where that money will be best spent.

 If these special election results prove anything it's that we are in for a wild year at the polls. It's not as if this president is going to become any less polarizing in the coming year, We are about to see the fallout of the ACHA Senate vote, and have a huge fight over tax reform. If the Democrats were a party without a message, they are about to get handed all of the talking points they need. Now they need to find candidates who can win, and soon.