“But Lesko’s single-digit margin in a district Trump carried by 21 points has Republican strategists concerned.”
Republican Debbie Lesko won the House special election in Arizona Tuesday night, holding off a closer-than-expected Democratic challenge in a district that President Donald Trump won by 21 points in 2016.
Lesko had 53 percent of the vote when The Associated Press called the race an hour after the polls closed, with over 155,000 early votes tallied. Democrat Hiral Tipirneni had 47 percent of the vote.
But Lesko’s single-digit margin is the latest evidence that Republicans face a punishing midterm environment, even in Trump-friendly territory. Lesko’s victory comes on the heels of losses for Republicans in southwestern Pennsylvania, where Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb beat Republican Rick Saccone in a district that backed Trump by nearly 20 points in 2016, and in Alabama, where Democrat Doug Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore last year. In many other special elections that Democrats have lost, the vote has shifted sharply in their direction compared to the 2016 presidential results.
“Republicans shouldn’t be hitting the alarm, they should be slamming it,” said Mike Noble, a GOP pollster based in Arizona. He added: “This district isn’t supposed to be competitive, and so to see this margin, especially with the Republicans pouring in resources here — again, it’s a tough year.”