As Goes Ohio, So Goes The Nation? Though Still A Loss, Democrats Outperform Expectations By 20 Points In Special Election

Zinger Key Points
  • Democrats outperformed expectations by 20 percentage points in a special congressional election held Tuesday.
  • While the result could be promising for Democrats, some experts avoid putting weight in special election results.

Ohio is often seen as a key predictor of electoral success for U.S. presidential elections: the state has voted for the winning candidate in 14 out of the last 15 contests, with 2020 as the exception. A recent special election held in the state could indicate the direction of the 2024 U.S. election.

Election Results: A special election held in Ohio’s 6th congressional district was held on Tuesday to replace outgoing Republican Bill Johnson, who resigned in 2023.

Republican state Sen. Michael Rulli defeated Democrat Michael L. Kripcha, an air-force veteran and waiter, by 9 points. The result shocked many election analysts, as the district voted for Donald Trump by 29 points in 2020. The district therefore swung 20 points to the left in just two and a half years. Kripcha raised just $22,262 against Rulli’s $678,624, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) data.

Ohio’s 6th district, located in the eastern part of the state, is predominantly white, uneducated and rural. Democrats have not performed well among these groups here since 2016.

Other Special Elections: Democrats’ overperformance in special elections is not limited to the recent Ohio 6th election. According to Daily Kos Elections, Democrats have outperformed 2020 results by 3.8% in the 58 races held in 2023 and 2024.

Electoral Implications: President Joe Biden has seen historically low polling numbers in recent months, currently trailing Trump in general election polling. Amid significant polling errors in recent elections, some have speculated that special elections could serve as a better proxy for predicting general elections than polling. By this logic, Democrats’ overperformance in special elections could be an encouraging sign for Biden and Democratic congressional candidates.

Some experts, including statistician Nate Silver, warn against extrapolating special election results to predict the November election. Turnout in special elections, most recently in Ohio’s 6th, has been extremely low. It is typically the most politically engaged voters who participate; in recent years, these voters have broken towards Democrats.

When Trump’s name is not on the ballot, many voters simply stay home. While this might not matter in 2024, Trump is the GOP’s presumptive nominee, it could spell problems for the Republican Party in the future.

Trump will soon turn 78 and is not on midterm ballots (Democrats outperformed expectations in the 2022 midterms.) When Trump’s political career ends, it could leave a gaping hole in the Republican Party’s appeal to many voters.

Also Read: Democrat Tom Suozzi Triumphs In New York Special Election, Securing House Seat Vacated After Expulsion Of George Santos

Photo: rarrarorro via Shutterstock

Market News and Data brought to you by Benzinga APIs
Posted In: Politics20242024 election2024 Presidential ElectionCongressDonald TrumpJoe BidenNate SilverOhioRepublicans
Benzinga simplifies the market for smarter investing

Trade confidently with insights and alerts from analyst ratings, free reports and breaking news that affects the stocks you care about.

Join Now: Free!