Don’t Get Too Excited About the Ohio Special Election

It’s Election Day for about 750,000 people in Ohio. Well, in reality, it’s probably more like 100,000 actual voters in a special election in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District. It centers in the northern Columbus suburb of Westerville and shoots straight north to Mansfield and straight east to Zanesville. It’s a relatively safe Republican district so it won’t be a big deal, right?

Not so fast.

I don’t know who will win the race today, whether it be Republican State Senator Troy Balderson or Democrat Danny O’Connor, a County Recorder in Franklin County, home of Columbus and more than 1.2 million people, so he’s not some hayseed. The district is listed as R+7, meaning Republicans have a 53.5-46.5% built in advantage in the race. But, that’s in typical conditions. A special election is anything but typical.

A race like this, which gets maybe marginal attention from the national parties in November, has become the only race on the board on August 7, so every last bit of firepower is going into it. This race has seen over $8 million in outside spending, about $3.7 million of it against O’Connor. But we’re talking about very small, very motivated portions of the electorate in a race like this, and naturally, with the “blue wave” feelings and a President they hate, Democrats will be more motivated in this race.

O’Connor may win this race, he may not. Either way, Democrats are going to tell you that this is some sign that every House seat east of the Mississippi is going to fall into Democrat hands. Not so much. Depending on who wins, Republicans will either blame the media or praise Trump, who flew into the district for a rally Saturday. Would Donald Trump be visiting the 12th District in early November? Probably not.

And, because we have a special election in August, these guys will be back at it for a rematch in November. It’s like a boxing rematch, without Don King, tuxedos, and beautiful women.



Patrick Pfingsten is an award-winning journalist, political consultant, and PR expert. You can find him on Twitter @pfingsten1 or email him at You can also follow Forward Thinking Politics on Facebook and Twitter.


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