Pat Ryan win in Congress race boosts Democrats’ hopes for fall elections

It was the New York election that upended political forecasts: Pat Ryan’s victory over Marc Molinaro in a congressional race in which Molinaro was seen as the likely winner in a climate favoring Republican candidates.

A storm of media coverage about “New York 19” followed, all focused on whether a Democratic win in that Hudson Valley special election meant Republicans might gain fewer House seats than expected in midterm elections in November, and if it signaled more broadly a shift in the political winds.

And for many analysts and Democrats, the upset had a lot to do with the Supreme Court ruling in June that overturned Roe v. Wade and ended national abortion rights after 49 years. The 19th District race offered the latest evidence that the Dobbs ruling had sparked a voter backlash that that could boost Democratic candidates this fall, shrinking a Republican wave before it crested. Ryan’s win was the bellwether that lifted Democrats’ hopes.

Republicans dash cold water on that new optimism, arguing Democrats have overstated the significance of that race and the role that the Dobbs decision played then and will continue to play in this fall’s elections.

Ryan, the Ulster County executive since 2019, had made abortion rights a centerpiece of his campaign, knitting that issue together with what he argued were other freedoms that were under attack by Republicans. In an interview with the USA Today Network, he said he believed that message was a “major, major factor, if not the most important factor,” in his victory, one that struck an emotional core with voters.

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