Tuesday’s special election in Ohio’s 12th congressional district was unlike anything the Buckeye State has seen before, and both candidates are hoping that bodes well for them in November.
Voter turnout in the hotly contested district remarkable for a special election at nearly 40%, and the results were razor thin.
The 12th district’s boundaries were re-drawn in 2010 and it stretches through parts of seven central Ohio counties. After all the precincts reported, Republican Troy Balderson was ahead 50.1% to Democrat Danny O’Connor’s 49.3%. Just 1,564 votes separated the two candidates, but the Secretary of State’s office says 3,400 provisional ballots still need to be reviewed and more than 5,000 absentee ballots are outstanding. That count will begin on Aug. 18 – 11 days after the election.
No matter the outcome, both sides say they have a lot to celebrate.
For once, the polls were spot-on, predicting a 1% lead for Balderson. Republicans are confident his lead will hold through the final count and will be repeated in November’s general election. O’Connor finished strong in a district that is gerrymandered to heavily favor the GOP, but Republicans don’t seem to think the trend will continue in a couple months.
“I like to say that special elections are very special,” Ohio Republican Party chairwoman Jane Timken said. “When you look at the turnout it was 200,000 people,k but compare that to the turn out in a general election and it is significantly lower.”
Timken went on to say that at the end of the day, Balderson won and dismissed talk of a blue wave in November.
“Generally, a midterm election is going to bode well for Republicans,” Timken said.
Timken said President Donald Trump will return to Ohio to campaign for Republicans in the Buckeye State and it will work on Election Day.
Republicans are also predicting a strong showing in November and they say in just a matter of days, they will have a strong finish in August.
Democrats, though, are declaring a win of sorts because O’Connor had the strongest showing for the party in the 12th district since the early 1980s.
“This is a district that in the past basically has not had any competition,” Ohio Democratic Party chairman David Pepper said. “[This election] is the closest it has been in a decade.”
You can watch Colleen Marshall’s full interviews with Timken and Pepper above.