What Tuesday Night's Election Results Mean For November

Aug 8, 2018
Originally published on August 8, 2018 8:50 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Yesterday was an election day, and there were some pivotal primary races in several states and, also, the final special congressional election before the midterms, and that one is a real nail-biter. The race for Ohio's 12th Congressional District pits Republican Troy Balderson against Democrat Danny O'Connor. And, as of right now, Balderson leads by less than a percentage point, about 1,800 votes. The Associated Press says this race is still too close to call, with thousands of provisional or absentee ballots yet to be counted. But the Republican Balderson did declare victory last night. Let's bring in NPR's national politics editor Domenico Montanaro, who is with us. Hey, Domenico.

DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Good morning, David.

GREENE: So I guess a win is a win if Republicans do pull out this race, but this might be the close race they really hoped to avoid. Is that right?

MONTANARO: Look; Republicans are ringing the alarm bells this morning. You know, President Trump went out and tweeted that, you know, his victory, essentially, of this, where he said that Balderson was down - Troy Balderson had been down before he came in and now he won, that's a nice spin on it. But if you ask the Republicans on the ground and the Republicans who are having to work these races in Washington, clearly, they're pushing boulders up hills right now. This is not the kind of district that really is indicative of, you know, the kind of competitive races that you should see in November. This, as John Kasich, the Ohio governor, said Sunday, should have been a slam-dunk for Republicans, and it just wasn't. And that makes a potential wave this fall for Democrats less of an impossibility and looks more and more likely.

GREENE: Because if they can compete in a district that's reliably red and that President Trump won so easily, that really opens up the map for Democrats.

MONTANARO: Yeah. Trump won this district by 11 percentage points in the 2016 election. And to quantify this, think about this. Democrats need 23 seats to take back the House. There are 69 seats that are held by Republicans right now that either Trump won by less than this district or that Hillary Clinton won in 2016. That is a huge gap and puts a whole lot more potential seats in play.

GREENE: Let's turn to Kansas now. There was an interesting GOP primary for governor, right?

MONTANARO: Yes. You had the Republican secretary of state there, Kris Kobach, against the incumbent governor, Jeff Colyer. Kobach, people might remember him because he was in charge of President Trump's Election Integrity Commission.

GREENE: Which was really controversial, right?

MONTANARO: Absolutely. I mean, this was something that - you know, Trump had said that he'd lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by 3 million votes because of voters in the country illegally. Of course, Kobach's commission did not find any evidence of widespread fraud, and his commission fizzled. But he's been a loyal Trump ally. Trump endorsed him, and Kobach is clinging to a less-than-200-vote lead right now, with a hundred percent of the precincts reporting.

GREENE: It's making that race in Ohio look like a landslide. This one's even closer.

MONTANARO: Yeah. And this is another place in a red state that Democrats are hoping that, if Kobach wins, they can possibly put this on the map as a competitive governors race.

GREENE: And the other vote worth mentioning, it sounds like it was an upset in Missouri and maybe a pretty big win for labor unions.

MONTANARO: Right. Well, there was a law that had passed that would essentially turn Missouri into a, quote, "right-to-work state," which would mean that people wouldn't have to pay union fees if they were - even if they - you know, they wouldn't have to pay these union fees if this law had passed. The law did pass, but then it got put on the ballot, and by two-thirds, people said that they don't want this law in place. So it was a big win for unions, when unions have had their back against the wall in a lot of places across the country and spent millions of dollars to get this win.

GREENE: All right. NPR lead political editor Domenico Montanaro. Domenico, thanks.

MONTANARO: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.