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Delaware Special Election Win Shows Energized Democratic Turnout

by David Atkins
February 25, 2017

It’s been a chant that has animated marches and protests around the country since the day after Donald Trump was inaugurated president. Tonight, in a state Senate district in Delaware that stretches from Middletown to Newark, the voices in the streets turned into votes in the ballot box.

Tonight’s special election result in Delaware is giving Democrats nationally a boost of confidence.

The state Senate had been split 10-10 since the 10th District seat was vacated in November.

Tonight’s election wasn’t just an 18-point rout for Democrat Stephanie Hansen over her GOP rival John Marino in a district that only gave the Democrat a 2-point win in 2014. This Saturday special election featured turnout that eclipsed that of 2014. Not only did Democrats hold the Senate in Delaware today, turnout was roughly double a normal special election. Trump has made nothing normal.

“Let’s take this movement national,” former Vice President Joe Biden, a Delaware resident, told Hansen victory partiers tonight night by phone.

It also notched a big Donald Trump-era win for a new generation of Democratic activists shocked into action by the November election.

The obvious caveats apply: it’s a small district in Delaware that received national attention because it’s the first significant election since the November of Trump, and it comes at a time when Democrats across the country are particularly motivated and furious.

If Democrats can maintain the sort of momentum on display in Delaware tonight into November 2018, Republicans might well be in for a shellacking of their own–voter suppression and gerrymandering notwithstanding.


Special note

The turnout of volunteers made a huge difference as Hansen crushed her Republican opponent with unusually high turnout for a special election.

Groups like Sister District, Flippable and Indivisible helped organize volunteers. For many, this was the first time they had been involved in a political campaign.

Mitchaell Kawash, a volunteer from Brooklyn, New York, said he was canvassing for the first time because of the importance of state-level politics.

Nicholas Sewitz, who previously canvassed for Sen. Bernie Sanders, joined Kawash and other friends from Brooklyn. “Trump is politicizing the populace,” Sewitz said.

Marsha Murray and Sarah Kimball came from Lower Manhattan to volunteer. For Kimball, it was her first time canvassing.

Ken Kidd, a volunteer who came from Manhattan, said the Women’s March and rising activism has led to a “resurgence in citizenship.”

Links to this story:

Huffington Post – Buoyed By Anti-Trump Activism, Democrat Wins Delaware Special Election

Washington Post – Delaware Special Election Win Shows Energized Democratic Turnout

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