Here’s what we learned from the special election in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District Tuesday night:Progs still see their wave coming: Here's the real lesson of the Ohio special election
Things are really, really close. But they are tight in lots of places.
Democrats have repeatedly transformed special elections in what are otherwise safe GOP districts into dogfights over the past year and a half. There was no reason the contest in Ohio should have been tight. Former Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, long held the district.
Prior to that, Ohio Gov. John Kasich represented the district in Washington. But then again, Democrats have repeatedly put into play historically Republican districts in special elections.
Consider contests in Kansas, Georgia, Montana and South Carolina. Democrats came close to winning them all – but didn’t. Democrats finally won a special election on GOP turf in late March. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Pa., emerged victorious – but barely.
Consider that the 12th district is not, by any traditional measure, a toss-up district. Taking in the northern and eastern suburbs of Columbus -- and stretching to more rural areas further east -- it has been held by a Republican member of Congress continuously for the past three decades. In 2012, even while losing the state to President Barack Obama, Mitt Romney won the 12th by 10 points. Four years later, Donald Trump carried it by 11 points.Biased polls are useful as long as they're consistent. 536 has an aggregate poll showing Democrats up by 8%. The generic Democrat midterm lead from 2014 back to 2002 was -2%, -9%, +12%, -2%. Republicans usually have higher turnout, but college educated white women are breaking hard for Democrats and they're reliable voters.
Based on those numbers, this is not a seat that should be at all competitive -- even in a special election -- if the national playing field was flat-ish. Of course, we know it's not -- based on lots and lots of other results this year. The playing field -- as it so often is in a midterm election with one party in control of all the levers of power in Washington -- is clearly tilted toward Democrats, and will be this November. The question that needs to come into better focus is how tilted.
Republicans usually rally late, but if the Democrat advantage doesn't close soon it spells trouble in November. Trump helped by supporting the man who might be second to Stephen Miller on immigration restriction. If Kobach holds on to his narrow lead, Democrats will make the Kansas governor's election a national referendum on immigration policy.
Democrats have added immigration to their unpopular abortion and gun control positions. Although the nation is very divided on abortion and guns, it is the pro-life and 2A voters who come out in force. Immigration is similar, except that independents side with Republicans on immigration far more than on guns or abortion. Stephen Miller is closer to the center on immigration than the average Democrat.