What Ohio's close special election could mean for the midterms

Ohio special election too close to call

Voters in Ohio's 12th Congressional District headed to the polls Tuesday for the final special congressional election before November. The race remained too close to call by midday Wednesday, with the outcome likely to be determined by provisional and absentee ballots. Ohio's 12th District has long been deeply red territory and many analysts see the results as a possible precursor for what's to come in November's midterm elections.

CBS News contributor and Republican strategist Leslie Sanchez and Democratic strategist Lynda Tran spoke to CBSN's Anne-Marie Green about the underlying dynamics of the race between Democratic candidate Danny O'Connor and Republican candidate Troy Balderson, and what the result could tell us about what's to come in the midterms.

Sanchez said such a tight race in a reliably red district could be explained by the distaste many establishment Republicans have for President Trump's style. (Mr. Trump held a rally for Balderson ahead of Tuesday's vote.) Regardless, she still expects Republican voters to support down-ballot GOP candidates in November.

"This is not new, that there's a lot of frustration with the unorthodox approach of the president," Sanchez said. "As we get closer to November, many of these Republicans are going to come home. They're going to go back in supporting traditional Republican candidates, because they worry about, who would these Democrats caucus with? Are they in the Nancy Pelosi mold? Where would they fit in, and fundamentally how do they keep a very economic oriented agenda moving?"

Tran, the Democratic strategist, disagreed. She sees what's happening in Ohio 12th District as a sign that Republicans will have trouble in November.

"This is deeply, deeply blood-red country that should've been a walk in the park for any Republican candidate ... facing off against a very young Democrat who hasn't had his name out there for any period of time and also got outspent tremendously by the forces on the right. This is big trouble for Republicans," Tran said.


For their full conversation, watch the video in the above player.