Donald Trump congratulated Republican Ron Estes for defeating Democrat James Thompson in Tuesday’s special election in Kansas, a seat that became vacant when the president picked tea party congressman Mike Pompeo to lead the CIA.
The only thing Trump got right in his tweet, however, is the outcome of the race.
Estes did not “easily” win on Tuesday, as the president said. In an ultra-conservative district that Trump won by 27 points in November, Estes won by only 7 points. That’s a 20-point swing toward the Democrats ― and it could bode well for the party in coming special elections, as well as the midterms.
Democrats did not spend heavily on the race. In fact, they barely spent anything at all, according to Open Secrets. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee did not begin running live calls urging residents of the district to vote for Thompson until Monday, the eve of the race. They did not aid Thompson with funds for advertising. Republicans, on the other hand, poured $130,000 into the race. They dispatched Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to stump on behalf of Estes and ran robo-calls from both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence there.
Thompson did, however, receive $178,000 on the eve of the election thanks to a fundraising plea from the liberal website Daily Kos.
Finally, no Democrat “predicted victory” there. The party was extremely reluctant to spend precious resources to flip a deeply conservative district. Party officials are more focused on other pick-up opportunities, like the special election in Georgia.
Editor’s note: The headline has been updated for consistency with the article. The article has also been updated to reflect total spending by Democrats and Republicans.