The Republican Party is on US House defense yet again with the Ohio 12 special election on August 7, 2018.
Results for the Ohio-12 special election will be published after the results are certified, expected to be after August 24.
This will be the tenth House special election for the 115th Congress, and nine of those seats were Republican. One of them, Pennsylvania-18, actually flipped despite a GOP advantage in the district. Ohio’s 12th Congressional District is not a world away from PA-18, and has a few similar characteristics. Will one of them be that it’s a Republican seat going to the Democrats?
Ohio 12 Special Election 2018: Background
OH-12 has been a Republican-held seat for a long time. Most recently, for 17 years, its representative was Pat Tiberi. He resigned from Congress at the start of 2018 to take a leadership role at the lobbyist group Ohio Business Roundtable. Prior to Tiberi, the seat was held for 18 years by John Kasich, the current governor of Ohio and former presidential candidate. That’s over 30 years of red in Ohio’s 12th District.
According to Charlie Cook’s fancy metrics, also known as the Cook Partisan Voter Index (PVI), this is an R+7 seat. This is to say that it scores as a district seven points more Republican than the national average, at least on the presidential level. One would think the GOP has the edge here.
The 12th District is in the middle of the state, creeping into Columbus and taking up many of the northern suburbs. It goes as far as Zanesville to the east and Mansfield to the north.
Ohio 12 Special Election 2018 Official Results
Troy Balderson (R) was elected to the United States House of Representatives; his victory was confirmed by official results on August 24, 2018.
Ohio 12 Special Election 2018 Candidates
Get used to the names of these candidates, because these will be the same people running in November’s general election.
For the Republicans, it’s Troy Balderson. He is a state senator and a self-proclaimed conservative who won his way through a very crowded GOP primary with 29.2 percent of the vote. Balderson defeated Melanie Leneghan by just 653 votes in a field of ten candidates. He has been in the Ohio Senate since 2011. Balderson proudly supports Donald Trump and his hot-button issues, which might not be a bad play in a state Trump won by eight points. For what it’s worth, Trump won OH-12 by 11.
On the Democratic side, the candidate is Danny O’Connor. He is Franklin County Recorder, a position to which he was elected in 2016. O’Connor’s viewpoints are more to the left, though he mentions “ending partisan gridlock” as one of his key issues. This is also not a bad play in a district that hasn’t elected a Democrat in over 30 years. He has been endorsed by the Columbus Dispatch.
Finally, the Green Party nominee is Joe Manchik. He’s running, as you might expect, on a green platform and is the owner of Manchik Engineering & Co.
Ohio 12 Special Election Results: Balderson The Apparent Winner
With thousands of provisional and absentee ballots still to be counted, all precincts and early votes reported on Tuesday night’s election. Troy Balderson (R) took 101,574 votes, or 50.15 percent, while Danny O’Connor won 99,820 votes, or 49.29 percent. The Green Party’s Joe Manchik claimed 1,127 votes (0.56 percent).
Major networks have not declared a winner pending the provisional ballots, which will not be counted right away. O’Connor won the district’s early vote by a substantial margin, but Balderson more than made up for it with Election Day voters. It will be those provisional ballots which decide the race, but with a final margin of 1,754 votes, it is going to take O’Connor winning them at about a 60 percent clip to tie the election. Remember, a recount is also possible, and would be triggered if the margin slips under half a percent, but those tend not to change the final outcome unless the margin is much, much smaller than 1,754.
Ohio 12 Special Election 2018 Predictions, August 5, 2018
Ohio 12 Special Election 2018 Analysis, August 5, 2018
Our final prediction for the Ohio 12 special election is a Troy Balderson (R) win by about two points. The Electionarium “confidence graph,” however, has slipped far enough to the left that now it’s picking up blue.
I think we have to acknowledge the fact that there is a massive enthusiasm gap in terms of campaigning and on social media (the latter is perhaps less important in the scheme of things, but worth mentioning). It also bears saying that Danny O’Connor (D) has more than a chance at winning this election, something two months ago we would have never said.
Monmouth released a poll that gives a look at the closeness of the election. The crosstabs of said poll have pluses and minuses for Balderson, the assumed favorite in this R+7 district. In some faint good news for Balderson, even if the turnout is at “Democratic surge” levels, O’Connor only wins by one point, with seven percent undecided who could scatter in any direction. This would require a near-perfect run by O’Connor between the early/absentee voters (which have favored him) and election day voters.
The other good news from the Monmouth poll is that the district’s polled voters approve of the Republican tax law by a 12-point margin.
As for the bad news for Balderson and the Republicans, their results showing a tight race is based off of a sample in which there are significantly more Republicans in the pool. O’Connor is up double-digits among independents, and he gathers 60 percent of “moderate” votes. Finally, by a 12-point margin, the voters of OH-12 think the Donald Trump tariff plan will hurt Ohio’s economy.
We also turned to analysis from outside sources to make our final call. Nate Cohn of the New York Times notes that O’Connor is not leading in any polls, but is ostensibly ahead with early voters. Balderson still has the election day vote to save him, and now you know why Donald Trump was there the Saturday before the election.
An O’Connor win would portend very, very badly for the Republicans heading into November. Lose a second reliably GOP district now, and how many more are you going to lose in the Fall? We’ll cross that bridge when and if we come to it, but for now, we are sticking with Troy Balderson. That support is tepid; this is no slam dunk as it should have been. O’Connor has all the momentum, and if the campaign were another week or two longer, I cannot guarantee we’d make the same prediction. Regardless, unless Troy Balderson wins by much more than expected, there are plenty of reasons for concern for the GOP.
Ohio 12 Special Election 2018 Analysis, July 30, 2018
There have been indications that this is a close race. Unfortunately for Democratic challenger Danny O’Connor, they’re his own internal polls. They are one of the few first consistently polling, however, so it could be worth something. It still means we think Troy Balderson is ahead, not by as much as before, but we do not believe the margin is within four points.
This race has not gotten the national attention of some of the other big special elections in this term. Democratic forces may be mobilizing, but not in a fashion that’s attracting the news. The final week of the election could prove a wild week, but in this red district, Balderson must be ahead right now. Were O’Connor to make it a close race, that would be an achievement considering it has been solid GOP for three decades.
Ohio 12 Special Election 2018 Past Analysis, July 11, 2018
Right now, we feel comfortable putting this at about an eight-point lead for Balderson. That’s where the more recent opinion polls have it. This is a strongly-Republican district that isn’t showing signs of waffling like PA-18 did. Further, it’s summer, and people in general are perhaps paying less attention to politics than they otherwise would. Finally, the “Blue Wave” for the 2018 election cycle seems to have leveled off somewhat. Towards the beginning of the year, it looked like a freight train. While the Democrats remain in a good position to make significant gains in the US House, their poll numbers are not growing.
The Democrats would need a very strong showing to pick off this district, and then win it again in November with what figures to be a larger electorate. Difficult, but not impossible. Nevertheless, Balderson should be considered the favorite at this time.