But it could give Republicans a boost in confidence as they struggle to advance health and tax legislation that has been bogged down by infighting and investigations into whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russian Federation in last year's presidential election.
By a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent, the former Georgia secretary of state defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff, a political newcomer who sought to wrest control of a suburban Atlanta district that has elected Republicans to Congress since the 1970s.
The contest for Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price's old Congressional seat in Georgia was the one to watch, and progressives dumped their wallets into funding it.
In South Carolina, Republican Ralph Norman beat his Democratic opponent Archie Parnell by only 3.2 percent, .6 percent closer than Handel's win, in a much redder district.
The National Republican Congressional Committee is taking a major victory lap after their Georgia special election win. "Media headlines this week should be: Democrats go 0-4 in special elections. voters reject socialism", he added in a follow-up tweet.
"KAREN HANDEL FOR CONGRESS", he wrote. But after yet another disappointment for Democrats, it may be time for soul-searching and finger pointing. Mr. Trump's election doesn't necessarily settle the internecine argument between the Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders wings of the Democratic party in favor of full blown socialism, but it does at least make the case that a robust, easily identifiable policy agenda is necessary.
On June 21, Trump took to Twitter again to offer unsolicited advice to Democrats, suggesting that they cooperate with his administration's agenda.
A district that has been sending Republicans to Washington for almost four decades sent another one to our federal city on Tuesday.
About four hours by auto from Atlanta, South Carolina's fifth congressional district was not considered a competitive race for Democrats.
Earlier this year, Republicans won special elections in Montana and Kansas, while a Democrat won a race in California. Jon Ossoff (right) is now a candidate for Georgia's 6th Congressional District Special Election.
But while Republicans were facing a sobering reminder of their president's poor approval ratings, Handel steadied the ship in a district that only narrowly backed Trump in last November's vote.
"This phony NBC television network - they actually had one of the people say 'It was a little rainy last night". The real surprise of the night was just how competitive another special election held Tuesday - that one in SC - had become.