Republican nominee Troy Balderson has declared victory in the special election for Ohio’s 12th Congressional District. President Trump has congratulated him.
But Democratic nominee Danny O’Connor has yet to concede — and the Associated Press has yet to call the race.
Why? With 100 percent of precincts reporting, and with the early vote counted, Balderson leads O’Connor by 1,754 votes out of 202,521 votes cast. That’s fewer votes than the number of outstanding ballots across the district. There are 5,048 absentee ballots left to count, and 3,435 provisional ballots — cast by voters who do not appear on the rolls, but are willing to sign affidavits saying that they are eligible to participate.
It’s rare, but not impossible, for election results to be overturned when absentee votes skew hard in one direction. O’Connor’s campaign, which dominated the early vote and focused on turning infrequent voters to the polls, believes that it outperformed with this final pool of voters. Ohio’s Secretary of State Jon Husted has also carried out purges of infrequent voters, a sore spot for Democrats.
Provisional ballots won’t be counted until Aug. 17, and the winner of Tuesday’s race won’t be seated until the House returns to work on Sept. 4. And both O’Connor and Balderson will face voters again on Nov. 6, having both won their party’s primaries for the general election.
“We always knew this was going to be a close race, and while we don’t know the results quite yet, I know that this campaign left it all on the field,” O’Connor said in a statement Tuesday night.
“That this race is too close to call speaks volumes about Danny O’Connor’s strength and Republicans’ expensive, failed playbook,” said Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Evan Weese contributed reporting.