At the Associated Press, Politico ("the latest evidence that Republicans face a punishing midterm environment"), USA Today (where Nancy Pelosi was reportedly "thrilled"), and elsewhere, the establishment press once again attempted to create "blue wave" solace for Democrats after a House special-election loss.
This time it was Arizona's 8th Congressional District, where Republican Debbie Lesko defeated Democrat Hiral Tipirneni by 5.2 percentage points.
The AP's election story read like a DNC press release:
GOP unsettled by narrow win in US House race in Arizona
It took a big money push from the Republican Party, tweets by the president and the support of the state’s current and former governors, but the GOP held onto an Arizona U.S. House seat they would have never considered endangered in any other year.
Tuesday’s narrow victory by Republican Debbie Lesko over a Democratic political newcomer sends a big message to Republicans nationwide: Even the reddest of districts in a red state can be in play this year. Returns showed Lesko winning by about 5 percentage points in Arizona’s 8th Congressional District where Donald Trump won by 21 percentage points.
... Tipirneni worked the district hard, making inroads rarely seen in an area that hadn’t elected a Democrat since the early 1980s.
The enthusiasm over a five-point loss is hard to swallow, given that AP dangled a possible upset in front of its readers Monday:
In a district Donald Trump won by 21 points in 2016, a Democratic newcomer is trying to pull off an upset victory for an open U.S. House seat in Arizona that has been held by Republicans since the early 1980s.
Tipirneni is seen as a fresh Democratic face with relatively moderate views that could get support during what could be developing as a wave year for the party.
The supposedly "moderate" Tipirneni supports abortion rights, "commonsense gun safety reform," and "expanding Medicare to allow anyone to buy into (it)."
As seen in the excerpts from Monday's and Tuesday's dispatches, the AP gave readers the impression that the district has had similar boundaries for well over three decades. That's nonsense (the 8th District in the current map was mostly in the 2nd district from 2003-2013):
The state's congressional district boundaries during the previous two previous decades make the AP's pretense that the race concerned "a seat held by Republicans since the 1980s," when Arizona had only five congressional districts compared to its current nine, look even more ridiculous.
The GOP has a built-in advantage of +13 in the district, according to the Cook Political Report's Partisan Voting Index. So the Democratic challenger, in a district previously represented by a Republican who resigned in the wake of a scandal, in a year where "the Resistance" is supposedly fired up to turn out in droves to reject Republicans, made up eight points. That's certainly cause for concern, but it's hardly convincing evidence of a nationwide "blue wave."
Blogger Don Surber succinctly summed up the prevailing media narrative: "Republicans win, press says Trump is doomed."
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.