Last night’s special election in the Ohio 12th District ended up being so close that although Republican candidate Troy Balderson declared victory, no major media outlet had declared him the winner as of midnight local time. No matter how this plays out, it’s an utter disaster for the Republican Party, because this was a district that it had won by thirty-six points in 2016. Even Donald Trump, who campaigned for Balderson, was left making late-night excuses for why his candidate performed so poorly in such a deeply red district.
They say there are no moral victories on election day. But this special election was less about the winner, and more about taking one final measure of where things stand ahead of the November elections. The Democratic candidate outperformed in this election by thirty-five to thirty-seven points, which means that the GOP is in more trouble than ever. In means the Democrats can expect to take a number of seats from the GOP in red districts, where the GOP’s traditional margin is more like ten to twenty points.
Here’s the spin that Donald Trump ended up putting on the race: “When I decided to go to Ohio for Troy Balderson, he was down in early voting 64 to 36. That was not good. After my speech on Saturday night, there was a big turn for the better. Now Troy wins a great victory during a very tough time of the year for voting. He will win BIG in Nov.”
Very tough time of the year? What is that even supposed to mean? In any case, it’s a big deal that even the ever-delusional Donald Trump (or whoever was running his Twitter account last night) felt compelled to make excuses for why the GOP underperformed so severely. Of course the kicker is that this is an oddly time special election which will be contested again in November, meaning that no one really won much of anything.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report