Update: While the fight was a close as expected – given the massive amounts of cash both parties spent – the winner of Ohio’s special House election is Trump-backed Republican Troy Balderson.
As we noted earlier, while both candidates are already on the ballot in November for a rematch to win a full two-year term, tonight’s special election carried major implications for Republicans seeking to hold control of the House and Democrats trying to retake the chamber.
Despite the numbers above CNN, among others refuse to call it.
Of course – two things are now about to happen: 1) a recount will be demanded… and 2) Russian interference will somehow be blamed.
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Additionally, Trump-backed Iraq war veteran John James has won Michigan’s GOP Primary to take on Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow this fall.
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Polls are closing in Ohio’s special House election on Tuesday as voters in the 12th district choose a replacement for Representative Pat Tiberi, a Republican who resigned in order to go into private industry.
President Trump has gone all-in for Troy Balderson – appearing at a Saturday rally to drum up support for the Republican candidate – reiterating his support in a subsequent tweet and claiming that his opponent, Democrat Danny O’Connor would be “a total puppet for Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters.”
…Danny O’Connor is a total puppet for Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters – Danny wants to raise your taxes, open your borders, and take away your 2nd Amendment. Vote for Troy on Tuesday!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 5, 2018
As such, the 12th district race – expected to be tight, will be used by some to gauge whether Republicans will ride a “Red Wave” this fall as Trump has predicted, or if the much talked about “blue wave” will give Democrats back their power in one or both chambers of Congress.
The race shouldn’t be this close: Trump won the suburban district in 2016 by 11 points. And the seat, previously held by retired Rep. Pat Tiberi (R), has been held by Republicans since 1980.
But Trump’s popularity is stuck in the mid-40s nationally, giving hope to Democrats they can win the Ohio seat. Democrats need to pick up 23 seats to take over the House in November.
The Ohio race has therefore become a key part of Trump’s appeal, and turned into a must-win for Republicans who are seeking to tie O’Connor to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). –The Hill
A few considerations:
- Democrats typically dominate early voting, so the first results are likely to favor O’Connor
Democrats got an early advantage by sending out their “request for absentee ballot” forms earlier than Republicans, and the hard work paid off: As of Thursday, 12,579 Democrats in the district had requested early ballots, with 10,565 actually returning them. By contrast, 11,398 Republicans had requested ballots, while 7,757 had returned them.
Through Friday, 55 percent of the early votes had come from registered Democrats in Franklin, Delaware and Licking counties — which contain about four-fifths of the 12th District’s population — compared with 30 percent from Republicans, according to figures compiled by election statistics guru Mike Dawson. Compare that to a Republican advantage of 35 percent to 26 percent in the November 2016 vote, and the Democratic turnaround is obvious. –WHIOTV7
–Don't even think about the OH12 early vote tonight. It's going to be wild for O'Connor, and it's not remotely representative
–A benchmark: if this is like prior specials, turnout would be appx 220k and Franklin Co. will be appx 34% of the electorate. Will be fun to compare
— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) August 7, 2018
- Crappy timing; the Ohio election is being held in the dead of summer, the week before school begins in much of the state. It’s a “lousy” time to hold an election, according to one GOP operative, WHIOTV reports, as it’s also a key week for vacations.
- Delaware County is key – while Republicans concede that O’Connor will most likely win Franklin County – the “X-Factor” is Delaware County, which is a large reason Trump visited there on Saturday.
The county supported Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton by 15 points in 2016. But while that seems a solid lead, it was narrower than in most other counties in Ohio. The county is also heavily populated by a more business-friendly, moderate breed of Republican than the populist Trump. –WHIOTV7
- A Balderson win means that the Republican establishment – Trump supporters and never-Trumpers alike, came together to defend a long-held GOP district. A loss will not look good for the “red wave.”
“The 12th is the canary in the coal mine for Republicans,” said David Cohen, a political science professor at the University of Akron. “And if the canary dies, I think many Republican Congress people are going to be looking for jobs.” –WHIOTV7