(This is standard Sabotage Republican behavior exemplified by Nelson Rockefeller. In any case, the GOP Establishment prefers Democrats to be in charge: Until 1994 the Democrats had control of the House for 40 straight years).
Above, Ohio 12 polls June-August 2018, Real Clear Politics, Balderson was +9 and +11 in June
8/7/18, “What the Ohio election can tell us — and what it can’t,“ CNN Wire, via wktv.com
“On Tuesday night, all eyes will be on the 12th Congressional District in Ohio. The district lies smack in the middle of the Buckeye state, winding through parts of seven of the state’s 88 counties. It looks a lot like the salamander-shaped district drawn by then-Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry that bequeathed the name “gerrymander” (with a hard “g,” by the way) to contemporary American political discourse.
When it was drawn by the Republican-dominated Ohio legislature in 2011, the intention was to create, or really to maintain, a safe seat for the [Establishment] Republican Congressman Pat Tiberi. As expected, Tiberi had no trouble holding the seat, garnering about two-thirds of votes cast in his last three campaigns.
This past October, however, Tiberi, a moderate Republican and close ally of Ohio Governor John Kasich, announced he would not complete his term, opting to leave Congress to take over as president of the Ohio Business Roundtable [a corporate lobby]. And so voters in his district must now head to the polls to elect someone to serve in his place until the end of the year .
Last week, a Monmouth University poll showed the race between Republican Troy Balderson and Democrat Danny O’Connor to be a dead heat. On Monday, a second poll showed O’Connor to be ahead by a point. And yet polls taken a little over a month ago showed a comfortable lead for Balderson of between 9 and 11 points [scroll down].
These polls have caught the attention of analysts because this district is not supposed to be competitive, and the unexpected weakness of the GOP candidate fits into a broader argument that Trump’s low approval numbers are turning voters against the GOP, even in previously safe Republican districts.
The problem with this explanation, at least in Ohio’s 12th district, is that a poll taken last month [June 2018] by Monmouth that showed Balderson ahead by 9 points [scroll down] recorded virtually the same approval/disapproval numbers for Trump. If Balderson’s downturn is tied to Trump, one would expect their numbers to drop together. Since June, Trump’s disapproval numbers have gone up by 2 points, while Balderson’s disapproval numbers have doubled.
If Balderson does poorly on Tuesday night, an alternative explanation is available. From the start, Balderson has been seen as the establishment Republican candidate in this race. A member of the Ohio Senate, he was endorsed by the incumbent Pat Tiberi, and was thought to be favored by Republican governor (and Trump antagonist) Kasich.The fact that the usually outspoken Ohio governor declined to weigh in on Balderson’s behalf during the primary is telling (although Kasich has since endorsed the Republican nominee). It is likely that Kasich understood that his explicit endorsement might be the kiss of death among Trump loyalists in the district.
Balderson’s connections to “the swamp” were driven home by his opponent in the May Republican primary, Melanie Leneghan. It was Leneghan, and not Balderson, who received the endorsement of the founder of the Freedom Caucus, Jim Jordan, and its current chair, Mark Meadows. Leneghan also received the endorsement of one of Trump’s most prominent supporters in Ohio, former Secretary of State and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell. [Balderson was also supported by Main St. Partnership, a “center left,” corporate advocacy group]”…[Below, Ohio 12 Republican primary results, May 2018: Balderson nearly tied with conservative favorite, Leneghan, ballotpedia chart]
[Above, “Ohio’s 12th Congressional District special election, May 8, 2018 Republican primary,” Ballotpedia]
And the battle between Leneghan and Balderson was anything but quiet. Not counting outside spending, Balderson and Leneghan spent nearly $2 million attacking each other. In the end, Balderson won by less than 1% of the total vote. In contrast, Danny O’Connor, Balderson’s opponent on Tuesday, bested his nearest opponent in the Democratic contest by nearly 25 percentage points.
So, rather than losing support from establishment Republicans who are turning on Trump, it is more likely that Balderson is suffering from a lack of support among Trump loyalists. Why else would Trump feel the need to not only travel to Ohio this past Saturday night [8/4] to campaign for Balderson, but to choose as his venue Leneghan’s home county, and then go out of his way to assure his supporters that Balderson “was always my first choice?”
Danny O’Connor, Balderson’s Democratic opponent, is a relative newcomer to politics. Only 31 years old, O’Connor was elected to the fairly low-profile position of Franklin County Recorder in 2016. It is difficult to not notice the similarities between O’Connor and Conor Lamb, the Democrat who took down Republican Rick Saccone in a similar Republican district in Pennsylvania this past March. Like Lamb, O’Connor pitches himself as a moderate Democrat, emphasizing his support for Social Security and Medicare, while pledging to vote against Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House, should the Democrats take over next year.
Since this is a district that Trump won by 11 points in 2016, anything less than a clear victory for Balderson on Tuesday will be spun as a defeat for the Republican Party, and further evidence of a coming Blue Wave in November. If Democrats win or keep the margins close, they will, if nothing else, force Republicans to spend a great deal of money in November trying to take back or keep a district that on paper should not be competitive.
Still, no matter what happens on Tuesday, be wary about drawing any conclusions about the larger national narrative.
Also, realize that a special election taking place in August is very different from a midterm election in November. After all, there is a reason why television networks broadcast mainly reruns during the summer. People are away on vacation and otherwise distracted by outdoor activities. Turnout will be very different. Nothing that happens on Tuesday will change that fact.”