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Is Ohio’s Special Election a Harbinger of November Outcomes?

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Democrats need to win 23 seats in the November mid-terms to regain control of the House. (U.S. House of Representatives)
Democrats need to win 23 seats in the November mid-terms to regain control of the House. (U.S. House of Representatives)
August 7, 2018

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A special election Tuesday in Ohio is drawing national attention as some experts say it's a bellwether for President Donald Trump. Voters will choose between Republican Troy Balderson or Democrat Danny O'Conner for the 12th Congressional District seat, left vacant by Republican Pat Tiberi.

An assistant professor of Political Science at the University of Dayton, Christopher Devine, explains the Columbus-area district has traditionally been Republican-held and was won by President Trump in 2016.

"This is one where Republicans should win," he says. "If, however, a Democrat were to win the race instead, it would be seen as an indication that Democrats are particularly strong this year, that there is a backlash against President Trump such that they might take at least the House in the November mid-terms."

Democrats need to win 23 seats in the November mid-terms to regain control of the House.

Polling from Monmouth University shows Balderson with a slight lead over O'Connor, which has some experts expecting a Democratic win. However, Devine says predictions are not reliable for special elections like this.

"What polling there is and what other indicators there are is such as early voting statistics seem to point to Democratic enthusiasm, and certainly it's getting a lot of national attention and national money but it's just really hard to tell who's going to turn out, he adds."

Tiberi resigned in January, one year before the end of his term. Voters will be filling the interim seat today, and will then again vote in November to fill the seat for the next two-year term.

This collaboration is funded in part by Media in the Public Interest and the George Gund Foundation.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH