CNN tried to spin Tuesday’s special election in Arizona’s 8th congressional district as “still good for Democrats,” even though a Republican won the race.
Citing the single digit margin of victory for Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) in what “should be” a deep red district, CNN’s Harry Enten claimed that the over-performance of Democrats might be indicative of a pattern.
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) April 25, 2018
Enten wrote that, in a district where President Donald Trump won by a 25-point margin (2016) and Mitt Romney won by a 21-point margin (2012), Lesko should have also delivered a wider margin of victory.
What Enten leaves out of his analysis entirely is the fact that Arizona’s 8th district is only very recently red. Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords held the seat from 2006 until 2012, and her successor in the 2012 special election, Ron Barber, was also a Democrat. The district has changed hands a total of five times in the last 25 years, and only three of the five were Republicans.
And while the margin of victory for former Congressman Trent Franks (first elected in 2012) was much higher in 2015 — over 50 percent — he did not face a Democratic challenger in two of his three elections.
Due to a major overhaul of Arizona’s congressional districts, the area covered by the new district 8 since 2012 reflects what used to be district 3. However, a similar history lies there over the decade prior to the district’s change. While Republicans held the seat, their margins of victory were largely kept in the single digits unless the Republican candidate was running unopposed or only against a third-party candidate.
This article has been updated for clarification regarding Arizona’s recent redistricting.
Watch Lesko’s victory celebration: