It came down to the wire on Tuesday but Republicans likely managed to hold Ohio’s 12th Congressional District by less than one percent. Republican Troy Balderson, who received the endorsement of President Trump, is currently ahead of Democrat Danny O’Connor by a mere 0.9% of the vote with 100% of precincts reporting. Here are the full results from the New York Times:

Balderson O'Connor Ohio 12 Results

Technically the results are not final yet as there are provisional ballots to count, according to CBS News:

The vote may come down to counting provisional and absentee ballots — but that could take days. County boards of elections reported that 3,435 provisional ballots were cast and there were 5,048 outstanding absentee ballots. State law dictates election officials cannot begin counting these ballots until the 11th day after the election, which would be Aug. 18.

The race has not yet been called, but Balderson, and President Trump, already claimed victory. What about a recount? We’re less than a one-percent difference. Vox explains the Ohio recount laws when it comes to races as tight as this:

In elections that cover multiple counties, like the Ohio 12th special, an automatic recount is triggered by the secretary of state when the vote differential is equal to or less than 0.5 percent. The secretary has to initiate a recount for statewide races — such as the governor’s contest — but the margin between the declared winner and loser is much slimmer: equal to less than 0.25 percent of the vote. (Any tie also triggers an automatic recount.)

But a losing candidate can also request a recount if the difference between votes isn’t small enough to set off an automatic recount. To do this, the presumed loser has to request a recount through a written application.

An automatic recount is likely out of the question, but it looks like O’Connor might be able to request one if there may be reason to believe it could alter the outcome. In most scenarios, recounts don’t yield differences in thousands of votes, sometimes maybe tens or hundreds. A recount would be a long shot for O’Connor and my gut says he’ll probably decide not to push the issue unless there are allegations of widespread voting irregularity. The results of the provisional ballots could change this scenario, but that remains to be seen.

So, how did Balderson pull it off and why did O’Connor seemingly come up short? Some of it simply has to do with Ohio-12 being a red-leaning district for three decades. Democrats rarely win there. The rest has to do with the campaign itself, and what drove Republican voters to the polls for Balderson.

Vox, once again, attempts to explain the playbook employed by Balderson:

And Republicans, who have been adamant that talking about a booming economy will save them in the 2018 midterms, seem to have abandoned touting their tax cuts altogether. Instead they’re turning to the Trump playbook: Don’t talk about the tax bill, and stoke the culture wars.

Over the weekend, President Donald Trump stumped for Balderson at a rally in the district, warning of a Democrat-run nation with “crime all over the place. You’re going to have people pouring across the border,” Trump said. Pro-Balderson ads have pivoted from the economy to attacking O’Connor as “Dishonest Danny” and “Dangerous Danny” — a Nancy Pelosi-loving liberal who will block Trump’s border wall.

Just months away from the 2018 midterm elections, the special election in Ohio’s 12th serves as another test of Republicans’ messaging strategy. It’s becoming increasingly clear that their one major legislative accomplishment of the year — tax cuts — doesn’t seem to be enough to win elections. And Tuesday might prove that a culture war against liberals might not be enough, either.

Culture wars versus economic messaging is the Vox read, and that may be a valid assessment. It would have been very easy for Republicans to get apathetic and stay home as is often the case for the party that last wins the White House. Something drove them to the polls enough to put Balderson over the top.

Former Ohio Governor, and frequent Trump critic, John Kasich, said that the President’s presence in the district and endorsement of Balderson actually hurt Republicans:

“It really doesn’t bode well for the Republican party because this shouldn’t even be contested,” Kasich said of the Ohio contest.

The governor said Balderson told him he didn’t ask Trump to come to Ohio to campaign for him. The president blasted Democrats during a raucous election rally for Balderson in the state on Saturday.

“I asked him, I said, ‘Troy, why did you invite Trump in here, the president?'” Kasich said. “He said, ‘No, I didn’t.’ So, you know, I think Donald Trump decides where he wants to go and I think they think they’re firing up the base, but I have to tell you, at the same time that he comes in here, I was with some women last night who said, ‘Hey, you know what, I’m not voting – and they’re Republicans – I’m not voting for the Republicans.'”

This is something that is hard to measure. Did Trump help or hurt Balderson? Would he have won by a higher margin if Trump didn’t show up? It’s possible that Trump’s involvement helped to motivate Democrats along with Republicans and the move could have easily backfired on the GOP. Kasich knows Ohio politics and the 12th district is not exactly Trump country being a fairly wealthy suburb of mostly college educated voters.

Either way, both parties are claiming a little bit of victory with Democrats touting the fact that they swung a red district ten points in their direction against Trump. That could mean closer Republican districts, say within four or five points, might be in real trouble if this trend holds nationwide. Republicans are touting that they held off the Democratic advancement by keeping another House seat safely in their column.

There were also some important primary races on Tuesday as well, you can get all the details on those from this CBS News story.

13 COMMENTS

  1. This from Wikipedia:

    It has been in Republican hands since 1920, except for an eight-year stretch in the 1930s and a two-year term in 1980 where the Democratic Party held the seat; in both instances the Democratic incumbent was later defeated by a GOP politician.

  2. The Franklin County Board of Elections will not certify the final results until August 24th so Trump is premature in his victory claims. There is still 1,722 provisional ballots and 1,750 absentee ballots to be tallied. If Balderson does wins, he will only serve until January. Regardless of the outcome, these very same two candidates will soon meet again on the November general election ticket.

    • There are 3435 outstanding ballots to be counted, according to NYT. with 1564 separating the candidates. For O’Connor to win, Balderson would have to get fewer than 935 of them. Apparently, O’Connor is waiting for that count before deciding whether to ask for a recount.

      • I think it wise to take the word of the Election Commission over the New York Times any day. If you can add, the two numbers I gave equal 3472 votes to be tallied. So whoever wins, it’s much ado about nothing since the winner will only hold the seat for a little over four months before they must seek reelection. Regardless of which man wins, both men will spend the little time they have left campaigning and official business will take a backseat.

          • Need a little clarification here, Goethe. If you are going to use Trump’s favorite escape hatch and cry “fake news” about my posts then please take off your Trump Cap long enough to give me a definition for “fake news”. I read a lot of different newspapers and ever so often I even read the New York Observer which is owned and published by Jared Kushner and Family. Does the Kushner family publish “fake news”? Exactly what newspapers do you recommend that people should have on their reading list?

            • Trust is the belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, and still pure of mind and heart. Meaning, I cannot honestly name any periodical, trusted or otherwise (NYT included), or any politician’s or layman’s rhetoric that does not have an agenda for attempting to control our individual thought patterns? Therefore, each individual voter needs to scrutinize each and every politician’s past votes and editorial views before making a decision at the polls.

            • I think that’s overstating it. Trust is just an assumption that something will happen, not a belief in someone’s integrity.

              We trust that the sun will come up tomorrow morning, based on our experience of many mornings. Reagan said “Trust but verify,” despite his suspicions. Iran, Cuba, Montenegro, and others trusted the word of the United States, in the past.

              We shouldn’t “trust” anyone unconditionally.

    • I thought the Dems were supposed to sweep All special/mid term elections. Or is it just the mid term elections that the Dems are supposed to win by huge margins? Like what happened during the Clinton and Obama presidencies, right?

      Right now is it 8 for 9 in favor of GOP ?

      • All of the special elections have been for seats that should have been shoo-ins for Republicans. The fact that Democrats came close is astounding. As noted elsewhere, Ohio 12 has been Republican for 87 years and Democratic for 10–eight of which were under FDR. In 2016 (less than two years ago), the Republican won by more than a 2-to-1 margin. That’s the surprise.

        • OK, but It isn’t a surprise to me. Maybe to Trump haters its a surprise. Not to me.

          You say they were to be Shoo-in elections. Are they shoo-ins during off year presidential elections for the party out of power?
          Usually that’s when voters out of power bask in their victory glory and don’t vote, right?

          I keep reading about how the Dems are supposed to sweep these off year elections. But it isn’t happening. Why?

          • It’s not about “off-year.” It’s about the district that has only elected a Democrat once since FDR (and quickly dumped him the following election).

            In off-year 2014, the Republican won by an even larger majority than in 2016. In fact, going back, the Republican won by a larger percentage in off-year 2006 than 2008, and higher in 2002 than in 2004.

            I don’t see any “Blue Wave.” Dems are cannibalizing over control of the party. One side or the other wil stay home. Democrats have consistently had more eligible Democratic Voters since 1932, but they find creative ways to lose. Relax.

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