The Importance of the Ohio Special Election – Inside the Blue

Last month, Ohio’s 12th Congressional district held a special election to replace Pat Tiberi (R) after he announced that he was resigning. 

The reason this election was of major importance was due to the fact that the district had voted heavily for Trump in 2016. However, the Republican, Troy Balderson, barely won the election against Danny O’Connor (D), showing that even in the deepest red states, the Blue Wave is growing.

For Republicans, this was a narrow victory with worrying implications – for Democrats this was a very good sign.

Siddharth Paratkar, the writer of the “Parties and Politics” blog, wrote a very interesting analysis of the election results.

Of course, Balderson and O’Connor will duke it out once again this November, and things very well could turn in O’Connor’s favor this time around.

Here is Siddharth’s article:

“On August 7th of 2018, Michigan, Missouri, Kansas and Washington held their primaries for the midterms, the colloquial term for the bi-annual congressional elections that take place between two presidential elections. There was also a special election in Ohio’s 12 Congressional district, after the Republican incumbent, Pat Tiberi, announced his resignation.

Historically, the midterms have always been a good indication of the public’s perception of the President, as in 2010, Congress swung heavily away from the Democrats’ control and have remained staunchly Republican since. Republican President Trump has an approval rating that fluctuates between the 30% and the 40% mark, and so the results of this month’s primaries, as well as the midterms in November, will be indicative of not only the public’s real opinions of the President and his policies, but also how President Trump’s endorsement positively or negatively impacts the candidates he supports.

This article will focus solely on Ohio’s primary results, with a policy analysis of who won and who the victor may be. President Trump won the state with a solid 8 points and 450,000 more votes than Hillary Clinton, but his current approval rating is below 50% as of 2018 in the state, so the special election was extremely important to determine the opinion of the population of the 12th Congressional district of Ohio.

To analyze the results and the policies of those who won against those who lost, I will be using this New York Times results sheet.

Ohio Special Election Results

This election was for the 12th Congressional District, where earlier this year, Pat Tiberi resigned his position as Representative of Ohio. The race was between Troy Balderson, a Republican, and Danny O’Connor, a Democrat.

Troy Balderson was the favorite to win the election. He is a hardline Christian conservative with a pro-life, pro-gun, pro-death penalty and anti-taxes. With a very strong Republican base that outnumbers Democrats by a factor of 2, endorsements from Donald Trump and John Kasich, as well as a district that voted for Trump by 11 points and has voted for Republicans by double digit margins for multiple elections, Balderson might as well have stayed at home to campaign. So what drew him out? In general, the Midwest’s approval of Trump has turned sour recently as his tax plan and budget have been massive spenders for the government, something that alienated a fair few conservatives in the region. But in Ohio specifically, his percentage approval has swung by almost 10 points. This traditionally safe seat has been impacted greatly by President Trump’s administration.

However, another factor in Balderson’s skin-of-his-teeth victory could have been his opponent, Danny O’Connor. O’Connor ran under the title of Democrat, but he could just as well have been a Kasich Republican, with a message of bipartisanship running deep as a part of his campaign. Staying light on policies, O’Connor instead focused on drawing the conservative and Republican vote by appealing to a more moderate politician instead of a radical left candidate like Bernie Sanders. O’Connor had to draw out a crowd that was filled with enough moderate and right-leaning individuals to sway the election, and sway it he did.

Conclusion

Troy Balderson won the election. With less than 1,000 votes and 1% separating him and the Democratic candidate. What was once a district with double digit margins for the Republicans has been shaved down into a margin that can be destroyed by the crowd at a local farmer’s market. The main causes include the president’s unpopularity, shifting sentiments towards the left and the strong charm of Danny O’Connor who may have peeled off plenty of Republicans and conservatives in his bid for election. This election is a bellwether for the Midwest as opinions of the President curdle and his approval rating continues to drop. It may just be indicative of the times to come.”

Overall, I think that we can expect rather interesting things to happen this November, hopefully things in favor of the Democrats.

Thanks for reading!

If you want to read more of Siddharth’s political writing, you can find him here.

If you want to read my other posts on politics, you can find them here.
 

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