New Mexico held a special election in its 1st Congressional District on Tuesday to fill the U.S. House seat vacated by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, and the Democratic candidate, state Rep. Melanie Stansbury, easily held the seat for her party. That wasn't much of a surprise, NBC News election analyst Steve Kornacki explained on MSNBC Tuesday night. President Biden won the district by 23 percentage points, and Haaland won it by 16 points.
"What Republicans were hoping for was not necessarily to win this — obviously they would have been thrilled to win this seat," Kornacki said. "What Republicans were really hoping for more realistically was for a race that was closer than these two numbers," 23 points and 16 points, and preferably "a single-digit race." Beating expectations, as the Democrats did in special elections running up to their 2018 blue wave, would be seen as a harbinger of a GOP House takeover in 2022.
With all of the expected vote counted, Stansbury beat the Republican candidate by 24.6 points. "Take these special elections with a grain of salt — there always sort of varying circumstances involved — but Republicans came into tonight hoping they could get a big talking point, hoping they could get some momentum that would point to a big midterm year for them," Kornacki said, "and it's Democrats who are going to be coming out of New Mexico 1 bragging."