RSS
The GOP's Hawaii coup
Does Republican Charles Djou's pickup of a traditionally Democratic seat in the district where President Obama was born spell trouble for Democrats?
Republican Charles Djou.
Republican Charles Djou.
charlesdjou.com.
I

n a special election, Republican Charles Djou beat two Democrats to win Hawaii's recently vacated seat in the U.S. House of Representatives — becoming the state's first GOP congressman in 20 years — and jubilantly declared that voters had sent Washington an anti-big-government message. After a confidence-shaking loss in last week's special election in Pennsylvania's 12th congressional district, are Republicans back on track to regain control of Congress in November? (Watch Charles Djou's victory speech)

Republicans should stop celebrating: Djou's election "says less about the national mood or the Republicanization of Honolulu than the particular conditions of the contest in question," says Andrew Romano in Newsweek. The Democratic vote was split between two feuding Dems, but the combined Democratic vote was 58.4 percent — 20 points more than the "paltry 39.4 percent plurality" that allowed Djou to claim victory in this anomalous "winner-take-all" race.
"A Republican wins in Blue Hawaii. So what"

Democrats are in denial. This is a big deal: It's true that Djou will face a tougher fight in this fall's general election, says John McCormack in The Weekly Standard. It's also true that a district where Obama won 70 percent of the votes in 2008 will never be truly safe for a Republican. But Djou has six months to boost his 39.5 percent share of the vote to the 50.1 percent he'll need to win a "head-to-head match-up." A candidate with a message as "appealing" as Djou's should be able to do that.
"Charles Djou wins Hawaii special election"

This means something — just not as much as Republicans hope: Djou's win reduces the Democrats' majority in the House to 39 seats — "not a significant change but not for nothing either," says Chris Cillizza in The Washington Post. Sure, Djou will likely lose the seat again in November, but "House Republicans have now broken the six-race special election streak held over them by Democrats for the past two years — a psychological barrier they needed to knock down heading into the fall."
"House Republicans win in Hawaii but does it matter?"

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week