No, Paul Ryan's seat isn't within reach for Democrats (yet)

Story highlights

  • Randy Bryce has been thrust into the national spotlight in his bid against Paul Ryan
  • Democrats are optimistic an anti-Trump wave will drive sweeping wins in 2018
  • But special elections show Ryan's home district remains out of reach, at least for now

Washington (CNN)A Democratic challenger hoping to unseat Speaker Paul Ryan has gotten a boost from a viral video in recent days, but he's still far from toppling the most powerful member of the House in November 2018.

Randy Bryce, an iron worker and union member in southeast Wisconsin, faces more than just an uphill climb in his bid to oust Ryan from the Congressional seat he's held for two decades.
Bryce fought his way into the national spotlight after his emotional campaign video highlighting his years of work in the district and his mother's need for health care coverage was viewed more than 500,000 times.
    "Let's trade places," Bryce says in the video. "Paul Ryan, you can come work the iron and I'll go to DC."
    Bryce was interviewed in CNN back in June and made the pitch for a single-payer health care system.
    This ironworker wants Paul Ryan's job
    This ironworker wants Paul Ryan's job


      This ironworker wants Paul Ryan's job


    This ironworker wants Paul Ryan's job 01:16
    But while Democrats are optimistic a wave of anti-Trump sentiment will drive sweeping wins in the House and Senate, evidence from special elections so far shows Ryan's home district remains way out of reach, at least for now.
    Here's a look at the special elections so far in 2017, showing a swing of 9, 17, 20 and 24 net percentage points toward the Democrats -- some of the strongest evidence that some tight seats will likely be turning blue next November.
    While the vote swung toward Democrats in each of those districts, they lost every race. And those swings are far short of the 35 percentage-point margin of Ryan's victory in 2016 -- and all but one of his re-election bids for nearly two decades. He's won every election for Congress by at least double-digits since 1998.
    In fact, there are currently 50 seats held by Republican House members whose districts lean more Democratic than Ryan's home turf, according to new ratings by the non-partisan Cook Political Report.
    Still, while Ryan does not live in the safest of Republican districts, it would take a major anti-GOP wave to put him in real danger. Democrats haven't picked up more than 50 seats since 1948, but the Republicans have picked up more than 50 seats as recently as the 2010 tea party wave.
    Taking down a sitting House speaker isn't unprecedented. Former Speaker Democrat Tom Foley was ousted in the 1994 midterms by less than 4,000 votes after three decades in the House. And more recently, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who held the next-highest post in the House, lost his primary battle in 2014.
    But Ryan's district's demographics don't do any Democrats any favors. The area is 82% white, 9% Hispanic, 5% black and 2% Asian, according to the most recent Census data. Only a quarter have a college degree. Democrats tend to perform better in districts with minority and college-educated populations.
    That's not to mention the fundraising power that congressional leaders hold during election season. Ryan will raise millions of dollars aiming to keep his House majority, and if he personally falls into trouble, the House GOP will spend big bucks to keep him safe.
    Bryce previously launched unsuccessful bids for the state legislature in 2012 and 2014. The Democratic primary race also includes activist David Yankovich and school board member Cathy Myers. Ryan already faces his 2016 opponent Paul Nehlen in the primary.