Democrats win another House seat in New Mexico special election

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Rep.-elect Melanie Stansbury (D-NM) trounced her Republican opponent.

Democrats on Tuesday comfortably held on to a House seat in a special election that political analysts had been watching for signs of waning Democratic enthusiasm ahead of the 2022 midterms.

Rep.-elect Melanie Stansbury, a member of the New Mexico state House, trounced her GOP opponent, state Sen. Mark Moores, 60.3% to 35.7%, with 100% of precincts reporting, according to the New York Times. She will replace Deb Haaland, the district's former representative who left the seat when she was sworn in as President Joe Biden's secretary of the interior.

Stansbury's 24.6-point victory margin was greater than the margin by which Biden carried the seat in 2020. Biden defeated Trump there by 22.8 points, according to data from Daily Kos Elections.

Political analysts said Stansbury's strong performance is a good sign for Democrats that their base is still engaged after the 2020 election. In both the 2010 and 2014 midterm election cycles, Democratic turnout dropped when then-President Barack Obama wasn't on the ballot, leading to GOP waves that swept Democrats out of power, first in the House and then the Senate.

Dave Wasserman, a nonpartisan political handicapper with the Cook Political Report, said ahead of Tuesday's results that if Democrats won by more than 15 points, "Dems should be very happy," saying that he expected Stansbury's victory margin would be in the 10- to 15-point range.

However, Stansbury far outperformed that, with Wasserman concluding that it may be Republicans who have a turnout problem when Donald Trump is not running.

"Dems' only hope for the midterms (but also one I'm not ready to dismiss): that the current GOP coalition is overly reliant on peripherally engaged voters who only bother to show up when Trump is on the ballot," Wasserman tweeted.

Democrats also pointed out that the message the GOP nominee in the race used — about rising crime rates and accusations that Democrats want to defund the police — fell flat in this district.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Sean Patrick Maloney pointed to that messaging as a sign the Republican midterm messaging may not work.

"New Mexico voters chose a leader with the grit and determination to deliver results and rejected the tired Republican tactics of lies and fear mongering," Maloney said in a statement. "While Mark Moores and the GOP spent this special election doing their best Trump impression, Melanie focused on building our country back better, getting folks back to work, and creating an economy for all New Mexicans."

With Stansbury's win, Democrats earned another seat to pad their slim majority. Democrats will now have 220 seats to the GOP's 211.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.