Posted by: jamesvw | March 11, 2010

Special Elections – The Big Picture

Special Elections – The Big Picture

A lot has happened since I started this blog a few months ago. The first thing to come to everyone’s mind is the Senate election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts. That showed, on a large scale, how unpredictable special elections can be and how they can show the shift of the electorate in between the major election dates.

There have been many legislative special elections as well and these have shown both the unpredictability and the local focus that are inherent to the races.

These elections are also the building blocks of momentum going into future elections. The Republican State Legislative Committee released a statement this week noting that, since the elections of 2008, the party has picked up 13 seats from Democrats and notched 50 victories.

Of course, their metric is wholly partisan and mostly unreliable (no count of Democratic victories or pickups are available at the DLCC), but in certain instances – New York, where two suburban seats were picked up by Republicans, on Tuesday in New Hampshire, in Kentucky where a massively expensive and nationalized State Senate race was held by Republicans – a trend can be seen. These races set up a bench for national and statewide elections. Politicians climb the local political ladder to position themselves for a run for bigger offices and these elections are incredibly important for understanding larger political dynamics at work  under the surface.

Thanks for continuing to read and follow all these races as we enter the spring and summer primary season for 2010 midterms. Keep up the chatter and bring any and all pertinent elections to the attention of me and all the readers here at All Politics is Local.



  1. Great article. Special elections are also important opportunities since voter turnout is often quite low. Many of these races have been decided by a few dozen votes. Most special election winners retain their seats, and often go on to higher office as well.

    • Hey Douglas! We missed you around these here parts. Thank you for the compliment and for the important addition. You are exactly right – these elections are so important because a small local political movement can swing the results.

  2. That “pickup” of 13 from the RSLC is actually the net pickup, as the GOP has flipped 17 legislative seats and has lost 4 to the Dems since the 2008 General (2 state Senate seats in KY, 1 state Senate seat in VA & 1 state House seat in KY).

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