Neither outcome is expected to have a tangible influence on the actions of the current Congress – the 11th arrondissement is a safe bet to stay blue, while the 15th is almost as likely to stay red and the general election will only take place in November – but voters, sifting through millions of dollars in outdoor advertising, have an opportunity to send a message to leaders of both parties about what kind of candidates they might favor in 2022.
Polling stations close at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Progressive Democrats and moderates clash in Cleveland
Ohio’s 11th District race has turned into a proxy war, with the generational and ideological cracks smoldering within the Democratic Party – but remained largely hidden in the early months of Joe Biden’s presidency – bursting out in sight.
High-profile surrogates have converged on the District, a predominantly Democratic territory that stretches from Cleveland to Akron. Sanders and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez campaigned for Nina Turner in the closing days of the race. South Carolina Representative Jim Clyburn and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus have deployed across Cleveland for Shontel Brown.
And in Cleveland over the weekend, Clyburn made it clear that his goal was to provide Biden with another ally in Congress and deprive the Progressive “Squad” of adding another member and tilting the balance of power to the government. within the House Democratic Caucus.
“I don’t understand why people think the whole agenda has to be yours. This is not how the world works,” Clyburn told CNN. “We have to sit down, find common ground, reconcile differences and move an agenda forward. That’s what this president is doing and that’s why he’s been so successful.”
What does “Nina” mean
Progressives have focused on districts like this – predominantly Democrats, where the primary typically decides who wins a general election – since 2018, when Ocasio-Cortez ousted the then-representative. Joe Crowley in New York. Over the past two election cycles, they have swelled their ranks in Congress with a series of major successful challenges.
But the victory of Turner, the former state senator and one of Sanders’ main supporters in two presidential election campaigns, would strike differently. Turner did not come out of political obscurity to lead this race – she is already a national figure and her fate will reverberate far beyond the boundaries of the district.
Although she pointed out her past support for figures like former President Barack Obama during the campaign, Turner is beloved on the left. She is considered a true believer and, at a time when some progressives are worried about the progressives’ alliance with the Biden administration, someone who will not be intimidated by pressure from the White House and congressional leaders. .
Other left-wing candidates have amassed support from allied groups, but few have drawn the kind of surge of surrogate in-person support that has swept through Cleveland in recent weeks. Ocasio-Cortez visited two weekends ago, former NAACP President Ben Jealous was in the field, and Sanders, as well as Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and racial justice activist Cornel West , have appeared for exit-voting events over the past few days.
Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders have made unusually personal appeals to Democrats to elevate Turner – and offer them a trusted ally for future intra-party clashes.
âWe need Nina. I need Nina,â Ocasio-Cortez said during his visit. “Please send me Nina!” “
Sanders struck a similar note on Saturday: “I would have come (to the neighborhood) because Nina is a close personal friend and someone I admire,” he said. “But the real reason I’m here is that we desperately need her in the US Congress.”
Can Trump bounce back from his fall in Texas?
Trump has backed coal lobbyist Mike Carey in the race to replace former Rep. Steve Stivers, who resigned to take a position at the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. A pro-Trump super PAC injected $ 350,000 into Carey’s support.
But Carey faces a crowded group of competitors, including Stivers-backed state representative Jeff LaRe, a former deputy to the sheriff. There are other outside players in the 15th District race as well: Kentucky Senator Rand Paul endorsed Ron Hood, a former state lawmaker who echoed Paul’s criticisms of Dr.Anthony Fauci, the main cause of infectious diseases in the country. And Debbie Meadows, wife of former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, and several other influential Tory activists are aligned with Ruth Edmonds, a former president of Columbus NAACP.
The special elections are a volatile political atmosphere: candidates have only had a few months to raise funds and campaign. The turnout is likely to be only a small fraction of what the district would see in a presidential or midterm election year. And a crowded field can divide even that small share of the votes.
Polls show that an overwhelming share of Republicans remain in favor of Trump. But, now that he is no longer in office, what is less clear is whether party voters are anxious to purge their ranks of those not aligned with Trump – a clear goal of the former president in next year’s midterm elections. Ohio’s 15th District will provide the final test to determine how ready Republican voters are to follow Trump.
Eyes on the suburbs of Columbus
Whatever Tuesday’s outcome, analysts won’t hesitate to dig into the numbers and study how Carey fared in the Columbus suburb, which includes sections of Fairfield and Franklin counties, and is home to roughly the half of the registered voters in the district.
Trump’s overall margin in the district improved in his second run, but closer examination shows – perhaps unsurprisingly – that the slight increase was fueled by higher numbers in his more rural communities.
The 2020 results for Franklin County – home to Columbus and its suburbs – offer a glimpse of Trump’s weak spot.
The former president lost the county in his two elections, with similar actions voting for him, but support for the Democratic nominee fell from 59.8% for Hillary Clinton in 2016 to 64.9% for Biden’s last year.
This is not an apple-to-apple indicator, as only parts of Columbus are within the Congressional District boundaries, but if Carey does poorly in the suburbs, Republicans will have more reason to worry. candidates facing similar electorates – the exact type they need to convince to claim a House majority in 2022.
It remains to be seen whether that kind of warning sign will be enough to convince some Republican candidates in the Swing District to walk away from Trump, if only on his electoral lies. But Carey’s performance among a very small number of voters in what is expected to be a low turnout election could have a disproportionate impact on the big races to come.