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Lessons in Ohio

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As I write this, the results aren’t yet final in the super-close 12th congressional district in Ohio – the last congressional special election in the country. The lead between Republican Troy Balderson and Democrat Danny O’Connor has bounced back and forth enough that you have to wonder, realistically, if this thing will go to recount.

There are some thoughts about this final congressional special that do seem worth some reflection.

First, the fact that it’s so close – much more than who wins it – is what’s remarkable. This is a congressional district held for decades by Republicans, where Democrats should not have gotten close. An election as close as this is a serious indicator of what’s ahead in another three months.

Second, both candidates will be back on the ballot in three months, whichever one gets the honor of serving in the U.S. House for the next 100 days or so. And the electorate will be a little different, and a little larger, then.

Third, this is not completely a two-way race. There is a third candidate: A Green Party nominee named Joe Manchik. His vote, only a sliver of what the other two have amassed, is nonetheless more – at least much of the time – than the gap between the other two candidates. Presumably, the Greens would rather see Democrats than Republicans win, but every vote they cast throws a wrench in that goal. (The same would be true, with show on other foot, if the third party contender were, say, a Constitution Party nominee.) If Balderson wins by less than the Green nominee, there’s a place where fingers logically ought to be pointed.

Fourth, the voting pattern is a stunningly close match to what we’ve seen in district after district in elections this year. The close you get to urban areas, the more blue (Democratic) they are; the more rural, the more red (Republican). That shows up perfectly in not only Ohio 12 but in the Pennsylvania contest earlier this year and many others. It will be a template for races to come in November.

Top place for most interesting result of the night, though, may come from Missouri, where voters are deciding whether to keep or throw out that state’s Right to Work law. With 44% of the vote in, they were opting 64.2%-35.8% to throw it out. That result – the margin is much too large to realistically be overturned, or misread – is likely to be widely noted in the months and years to come.

Oh, and the Colyer-Kobach races in Kansas is fascinating too.
 

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