The ‘blue wave’ is not a tsunami, yet
A Democratic win in Tuesday’s special election in Ohio’s traditionally Republican 12th congressional district would have provided yet another ill omen for GOP prospects of holding on to their House majority in the November midterms. Instead, Republicans appeared to have clung on to a once safe seat by less than one percentage point. A loss would have been devastating for Republicans, who had been forced to invest heavily to keep their candidate, Troy Balderson, afloat.
Balderson saw visits from both Donald Trump and Mike Pence in the final days of his campaign, and benefited from an investment of over $3m from the Paul Ryan-affiliated Super Pac the Congressional Leadership Fund. However, Republicans hold roughly 70 seats that are more Democratic-leaning and they will not be able to put in the same resources for every race in November.
The suburbs are a political ground zero in 2018
Strategists in both parties have long viewed prosperous suburbs as the major battleground for control of the House, and Tuesday’s results in Ohio reinforced that. Danny O’Connor’s narrow loss against Balderson was based on a dramatic surge in Democratic performance in Delaware county in traditionally conservative suburban Columbus; O’Connor got nearly 46% of the vote in a jurisdiction that has not supported a Democrat in a presidential election since 1916.
It continues the dramatic collapse in the Republican vote in suburban areas in the Trump era. In 2017, a Democratic surge in northern Virginia’s suburbs helped to hand Ralph Northam the governorship, and both Conor Lamb and Doug Jones were boosted by major swings among suburban voters in their special election wins in Pennsylvania and Alabama respectively. If these suburban voters continue to vote Democratic in November, a number of Republican members in districts from Minnesota to Texas are in jeopardy.