Ohio 12: Digesting the Data


From today’s New York Times:

The most significant harbinger from the Ohio race may not be the narrow margin, but the turnout gap between the most and least heavily populated parts of a district that absorbs the close-in suburbs of Columbus and rural stretches of central Ohio.

In both Franklin County, which includes Columbus, and Delaware County, the fast-growing suburb just north of Ohio’s capital, 42 percent of voters turned out. But in the five more lightly populated counties that round out the district, turnout ranged from 27 to 32 percent.

This is an ominous sign for Republicans: The highest-income and best-educated elements of the electorate — those deeply uneasy with President Trump — are showing the most interest in voting. Defending a few dozen districts that are either more heavily urban or feature a similar demographic mix as Ohio’s 12th District, Republicans will need to find a way to win back suburbanites or better galvanize rural voters. If they do not, their House majority will slip away.

OK, let’s reread that last sentence. To win, Republicans EITHER have to win back the country club set OR they have they have to ratchet up their appeal to the unwashed.

As Greg Sargent observes, the Republican establishment has made its choice. They have well and truly bitten the bullet. They have decided which horse to ride on:

The key to this is that Trump and Republicans have been doing everything they can to energize those rural Trump-leaning areas. If you look at the ads that Republicans ran against O’Connor — see here and here — they amount to a festival of Nancy Pelosi-bashing and relentless culture-war demagoguing about crime, the menacing immigrant invasion, and the alleged threat that “the Resistance” poses to traditional values. With the GOP tax cut mostly disappearing from GOP messaging, this represents a last-ditch effort to galvanize Trump’s rural base.

It’s working. But it’s not working well enough. Yesterday, 42 percent of the voters in suburban Franklin County showed up, compared with between 27 to 32 percent in the twelfth district’s five most rural counties.

In the rural areas, the subset of folks who chose to vote were even trumpier than they were in 2016. But lots and lots of the country club set are gone, gone, gone.

Kornacki tweet

What all this tells me is that Trump and his enablers are energizing A PORTION of the most ignorant and gullible of the rural white vote. “Trump’s base” is being winnowed down to a crazy hard core.

It is a loser’s strategy. Winning politicians practice the art of addition. Only a loser practices the politics of subtraction.

We were told long ago that Trump’s goal was to lose the 2016 election and then monetize his increased fame. Having failed in that goal two years ago, he persists.


Congratulations, Congressman-Elect Balderson


As of this hour on the morning after the election, the Fake News crew has not called the election on the twelfth congressional district in Ohio. Aardvark, however, a brave member of the reality-based community, is happy to offer congratulations to congressman-elect Balderson, shown above leading his troops in battle.

The twelfth congressional district is an oddly shaped geographic space, and is the product of efficient Republican gerrymandering. Efficient Republican gerrymandering means packing as many Democrats as you can into as few districts as possible, while creating a lot of districts that “lean Republican” by five, ten, or fifteen percent.

This is a really clever strategy, except for those occasions when a Republican president is bound and determined to drive a big wedge into the heart of his own party.

The twelfth district is comprised of wealthy suburban areas and much poorer rural areas. Franklin County, the most populous of its eight counties, is a suburban area located adjacent to Columbus, has 32 percent of the district’s voters. In 2012, Obama won Franklin County by three percent. In 2016 Clinton won by 19 points. Last night the Democratic candidate won by over 30 percent in Franklin County.

In the twelfth district as a whole, Trump won in 2016, 53 to 42. Last night the 11-point Republican advantage shrank to less than one percent. This is roughly in line with the average 16-point Democratic swing in ten prior special elections over the past two years.

But as a whole bunch of country club Republicans voted Democratic, or voted for the Green Party, or just stayed home, Trump did manage to gin up his rural white non-college educated supporters in the twelfth district, who came out to vote Republican in the same numbers as they did in 2016. (One may marvel at their gullibility and wonder what might suffice to end it. Only time will tell.)

Thus, instead of a 16-point Democratic swing, there was only a ten or eleven point change last night in the twelfth district of Ohio.

So, President Trump, please accept Aardvark’s felicitations on your great victory. Pyrrhus would be proud of you.

Likewise,  my heartiest congratulations to congressman-elect Balderson. You have indeed hitched your wagon to a star.