Team Politico reports on results from the final special election before this year’s fateful midterms, in Ohio’s 12th District:
Tuesday night ended with Troy Balderson narrowly ahead in the closely watched special election for a congressional seat in Ohio, and Republicans — including President Donald Trump — declaring victory.
But the photo finish — Balderson is ahead by 1,754 votes, with thousands of absentee and provisional ballots left to tally — in what has been a solid-GOP district shouldn’t provide much comfort for the party as it clings to an increasingly fragile House majority…
The National Republican Congressional Committee spent $1.3 million. Congressional Leadership Fund, the top House GOP super PAC, spent $3.2 million.
It was likely enough to vault Balderson over the top. But Republicans running in competitive districts against well-funded Democrats shouldn’t expect the same level of support.
Because this district was easily carried by Donald Trump in 2016, and Republican Pat Tiberi won that same year with a lopsided 66% of the vote, the apparent victory by Troy Balderson by fewer than 2,000 votes indicates a massive swing in support in this safely Republican district that can only be attributed to the unpopularity of the President and Trump’s party as a unit. It’s also worth mentioning that Republicans have held this seat for 35 years.
The math is very simple: if the same swing holds true in other congressional districts around the country this November, an historic number of Republicans in the House will be defeated by their Democratic challengers. In Colorado, the principal threat is to GOP Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora, who has won repeatedly in his district while the same voters elected Democrats up and down the ballot. Mike Coffman’s strategy of publicly triangulating off his own party on certain high-profile issues while remaining a 95%+ loyal vote for the GOP in order to retain party support faces the ultimate test in this environment.
After Coffman won in 2016, defeating his opponent by a substantial margin even as Democrats once again won the district in the presidential and U.S. Senate races, we and many other observers were willing to declare defeating Mike Coffman a lost cause for smart Democrats. Coffman’s ability to survive in a district his long hard-right political record should not tolerate has been tested against well-supported challengers, and you’d be a fool to write him off–even now, in what is unquestionably the toughest election Coffman has faced as a member of Congress.
Today, what we can say with certainty is that Democrats will never get a better shot at Coffman than they have right now. The wave in OH-12, like what we’ve seen in other special elections both won and barely lost by Democrats in the era of Trump, is big enough to take Mike Coffman down too.