Voters head to the polls for special election in Ohio’s 12th Congressional district

Covering Washington

WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — All eyes are on Ohio’s 12th Congressional district for Tuesday’s special election. It will be the last Congressional special election before the November midterms. 

“It will be our best predictor in terms of what will happen in November, in terms of whether there will be a democratic surge or not,” said Gary Nordlinger of George Washington University. 

Polls show Republican Troy Balderson and Democratic candidate Danny O’Connor are neck and neck, even though Republicans have held the seat for more than 30 years.  

RELATED: Misleading texts lead to confusion in 12th District race

Political experts say that could be a sign of what’s to come in the midterms. 

“The fact that it’s even close is a good sign for Democrats,” said Nordlinger. 

The Republican National Committee has a different explanation for why the race is so close. 

“Special elections are always tougher. We’re at the end of summer vacation and a lot of people aren’t really tuned in to what’s going on in election world right now,” said Ellie Hockenbury, regional communications director for the Republican National Committee. 

Big money and national attention are pouring into the district. 

“The RNC has a permanent ground game in Ohio. We never left after 2016,” said Hockenbury. 

President Trump was in Ohio over the weekend, campaigning for Balderson. He brushed off concerns about a Democratic surge. 

“They’re talking about this blue wave. I don’t think so, said President Trump. 

Hockenbury said the President’s visit could push Balderson over the finish line. 

“I think it’s important to get Troy Balderson to Washington to help implement Trump’s agenda. We are going to do everything we can to get that leadership in Washington,” said Hockenbury. 

RELATED: Balderson says “We don’t want someone from Franklin County representing us”

The Democratic National Committee is more skeptical that the President’s visit helped Balderson. 

“While the White House and while Washington Republicans believe Trump is still deeply popular in states he won, and that he could potentially carry Republicans to victory in November — I think we’re seeing in a lot of places that that’s not the case,” said Xochitl Hinojosa, communications director for the Democratic National Committee. 

Even though President Trump took Ohio in 2016, Hinojosa said voters like Danny O’Connor’s message. 

“Voters actually don’t want their candidates to rubber stamp the Trump agenda. What they want is someone that looks out for them. That’s why Danny O’Conner has been so successful,” said Hinojosa. 

The DNC said it’s focused on encouraging voter turnout in the district, especially among African American and Latino voters. 

Hinojosa said the DNC is hopeful about the possibility of taking the majority in the House in November. 

“It will be an uphill battle. We are investing everywhere because we know we could potentially win, with all the enthusiasm out there,” said Hinojosa. 

Hockenbury said the RNC knows the first midterms have historically been tough for a new President. 

“That’s why we’re taking all the steps that we need to on the ground. Our motto this midterm is “defy history” and we think we have the track record here in Washington to bring that to voters,” said Hockenbury. 

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