All eyes were on the special election in Ohio Tuesday evening. Although the winner would be running against the loser again in November, was it an indicator of election results to come?
It pitted Republican Troy Balderson against Democrat Danny O’Connor in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District. President Trump had flown in specifically to back Balderson who appeared to be fading in the polls.
From all indications it appears Balderson squeaked out a win. It was indicative of other races held throughout the country the last 19 months. For Democrats in these special primaries the main issue is not policy or the voter’s wallet, but rather President Trump himself. Straying from meat and potato issues can be risky and all eyes are on results from this strategy.
Usually safe GOP enclaves have been transformed into dogfights the past two years. In the Ohio special election, Balderson was representing a Republican district long held by outgoing Rep. Pat Tiberi. Before him, none other than the current governor of the state, John Kasich, represented the 12th District.
The pattern in Ohio ran its course in close elections Republicans won in Kansas, Georgia, Montana and South Carolina. It was touch and go even though all were heavily Republican districts.
Will these results embolden the Democrats to pick up 23 House seats in November to take the majority? The adage “Close but no cigar” rings true in these circumstances. Coming close can uplift a political party, but it doesn’t change the landscape. Moral victories ring hollow in the long run and Democrats must get over those magic 23 to flip the House in the midterms.
Special elections are a difficult way to feel the electorate. They usually mean small turnouts. Being the dog days of summer with school around the corner, voters have their minds elsewhere.
The true indicator of where the country stands will be in November. For instance, Ohio’s Senate race pits incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, against Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Ohio. It could well indicate who wins the Balderson v. O’Connor rematch depending on which party gets out the most voters.
But in the aforementioned races, and those this November, Democrats are not living up to the big hype late last year and early in 2018. The so-called "blue wave" they predicted is not coming together. Although the Democrats are holding their own in Republican-dominated districts, they’re still losing where they must win to regain a House majority.
Since their chances to flip the Senate’s 51-49 Republican majority look thin, the House is the focus.
Whether the Democrats care to acknowledge one stark fact or not, President Trump is making a difference. Balderson can thank the president for some moral support in his sagging campaign last week when he came to Newark, Ohio, or a political rally to support him.
The question then becomes whether the closeness in a heavily Republican district was because the candidate is weak or perhaps President Trump himself? “Trumpism” can cut both ways and the Democrats have three months to win that key question.
President Trump is most certainly a motivator to get people to the polls. Yet he also stimulates Democrats and on-the-fence swing voters with his bombastic dramatics. It could be a liability to some Republicans in balanced districts where they have a fighting chance of victory. But does Trump really propel people to the polls for the good of his chosen candidate?
The bottom line for Democrats in the special elections held thus far is this; little to show for it. In 19 months of these contests, Democrats squeaked out one election in Pennsylvania where Conor Lamb, running against his own party’s Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, won. That is very little winning for many millions of dollars spent.
Dwight L. Schwab, Jr. is an award-winning national political and foreign affairs columnist and published author. He has spent over 35 years in the publishing industry. His long-running articles include many years at Examiner.com and currently Newsblaze.com. Dwight is an author of two highly acclaimed books, "Redistribution of Common Sense - Selected Commentaries on the Obama Administration 2009-2014" and "The Game Changer - America's Most Stunning Election in History." He is a native of Portland, Oregon, a journalism graduate from the University of Oregon, and a resident of the SF Bay Area. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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