Ohio's special election is still too close to call in a race that Republicans should have won easily.
Republican Troy Balderson failed to secure a clear victory Tuesday in the special election in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District, where the seat has been held by Republicans for 77 out of the last 79 years.
As of just before midnight, the results were too close to call, with a margin of less than one percent separating Balderson and his Democratic opponent, Danny O’Connor. In raw votes, Balderson currently holds a lead of 1,754 votes.
According to CNN, more than 8,000 absentee ballots and provisional votes remain outstanding, meaning that the margin separating the two candidates is narrower than the total number of uncounted votes.
The final results, whether they deliver a victory to Balderson or O’Connor, will mark a major swing towards Democrats in a deep-red district.
In November 2016, Trump won the district by an 11-point margin, and Republicans have held the seat for nearly four decades.
The last Democrat to hold the seat was Bob Shamansky, who won a single term in 1980 before the district was gerrymandered in favor of Republicans. Prior to that, the last Democrat to hold the seat lost it in 1938.
Furthermore, outside groups spent about five times more to boost Balderson than O’Connor, on top of a last-minute blitz by the national Republican party. In return, all they got was a race that is too close to call in a district Trump won by 11 points less than two years ago, and that a Republican hasn’t lost for almost 40 years.
As Republican pollster Frank Luntz noted Tuesday evening, “Republicans have lost a House race there only once (in 1980) since 1938. … it should not be this close.”
There are other signs that should make Republicans nervous, too.
According to a recent NBC News analysis, 84 percent more people voted in Democratic House primaries in 2018 than in 2014. That’s compared to an increase in turnout of just 24 percent among Republicans.
If that trend continues, Democrats have a very good chance to take back control of the House.
There are dozens of Republican House seats that are closer than Ohio’s 12th Congressional District, and Democrats only need to pick up 23 of those seats to take back the majority in the House in November.
Republicans put everything they had into this race, and couldn’t even walk away with a clear victory in one of the safest districts in the country.