Ohio’s special election to fill the seat of retiring Republican Congressman Pat Tiberi was too close to call by the morning after the election. Republican Troy Balderson’s lead was less than 1 percent ahead of his opponent, Democrat Danny O’Connor. Provisional and absentee ballots are being counted.
The results in the election, like previous special elections this cycle in the Georgia 6th Congressional District and Pennsylvania’s 18th, signal that Democrats are energized and fielding quality candidates even in places that have not been competitive for them in recent election cycles.
The story of this special election has become familiar across the country: Democrats are angry, motivated and active even in districts that have traditionally been safely Republican. Meanwhile, Republicans continue to enjoy advantages in congressional elections.
These advantages are mainly due to gerrymandering, which has been easier for Republicans because their voters are spread out across suburban and rural areas in a way that lets Republicans control more space. Those advantages have given Balderson a slight lead, but Republicans across the country may be concerned after this election.
This was supposed to be easy
In the 2010 elections, Republicans won the Ohio governor’s race and control of the state legislature. They used that power to redraw congressional districts in their favor, rendering districts like the OH-12 largely uncompetitive. President Donald Trump carried the district by 11 points in 2016.
That environment meant that Democrats faced significant barriers even with Tiberi’s retirement. And Republicans seemed to do all the right things to ensure they kept the seat. Balderson is a fine candidate. He has a resume as a reliable Republican state legislator and has played by the rules. He holds mainstream Republican positions and avoids extremist rhetoric.
He is not a Rick Saccone, the firebrand who lost to Conor Lamb in a Pennsylvania special election earlier this year. Nor is he a Roy Moore, the controversial Senate candidate who lost the special Alabama election after allegations of sexual assault and statutory rape came out.
The Republican Party, at both state and national levels, got heavily engaged in this special election. They spent a lot of money on the race, particularly in the last weeks of the campaign. Millions of dollars were spent on television ads, saturating the airwaves at a level usually reserved for presidential elections in the days leading up to the election.
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence both held rallies in support of Balderson, and he received endorsements from Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and Gov. John Kasich. The Ohio Republican Party was as active and united as they could be.
The midterm environment
The party not in control of the White House tends to do better in midterm elections, so it should come as no surprise that Democrats in Ohio were energized. One common explanation for this is that the difficulty of turning campaign promises into real results drives down enthusiasm among voters who become disappointed by their party’s struggles.
At the same time, enthusiasm rises among voters who see the governing party’s failures as confirmation of their own beliefs. This dynamic is, of course, exacerbated by President Trump’s historic unpopularity.
There are dozens of other House seats currently held by Republicans that will be at least as vulnerable as Ohio’s 12th Congressional District in November. Many things went right for Republicans in this special election: a strong candidate, lots of advertising, and strong party unity among key actors. They probably put forth their best possible effort – yet it is still too close to call.
Will Republicans be able to devote resources to all of those other races? If not, or if those resources aren’t enough, then Democrats could make strong gains this year.
Trump goes after Fox News’ Chris Wallace after Shep Smith departure
President Donald Trump appears to be waging his own war against Fox News hosts that report the factual news and not opinions.
Friday, longtime Fox newsman Shep Smith was officially released from his contract, at his request and fellow Fox staffers are warning it's only the beginning. But now, it seems the president is seeing his sights on ridding the network of anyone who doesn't parrot his policies, politics, talking points or dares to fact-check him.
Robert Reich walks through all the ways Trump is selling America to foreign powers for his own personal profit
Notorious class warrior Robert Reich wrote a sharp attack of President Donald Trump for his international policies that are doing nothing more than scoring him personal cash and power.
Writing for The Guardian, Reich called Trump "the most xenophobic and isolationist American president in modern history," saying that the president has been "selling America to foreign powers for his own personal benefit."
While Trump promised during the 2016 election that he would "bring troops home," it was likely assumed that Trump meant the decades-long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The work on the ground in Syria was mostly being done by Kurdish allies and not American soldiers. The number of troops on the ground in Syria, prior to Turkey beginning their bombing campaign, was relatively low.
Fox News staff warns of an ‘exodus’ as consequence of Shep Smith resignation
Fox Newsman Shep Smith had been working on splitting from Fox News for some time, according to a statement he released Friday. That moment finally came this week when he unexpectedly announced he was leaving the network.
As CNN reported Smith's departure is only the beginning.
"It feels like death in the news division," said one senior Fox employee. The source explained that many staffers were "shocked" at the news, and some were crying. "At least we had him."