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Poll: Democrats could be primed for another big special election win in Ohio

Danny O’Connor is running right behind Republican Troy Balderson in the Ohio 12th.

Danny O’Connor is the Democratic candidate in the Ohio 12th special election.
Courtesy of the Danny O’Connor campaign
Dylan Scott covers health care for Vox. He has reported on health policy for more than 10 years, writing for Governing magazine, Talking Points Memo and STAT before joining Vox in 2017.

The Democrat in the Ohio 12th Congressional District is polling just a few points behind his Republican opponent, giving Democrats another opportunity for a big special election win in the 2018 midterms.

Democrat Danny O’Connor trails Republican Troy Balderson by just 1 point, 43 percent to 44, according to a new Monmouth University poll. In June, Balderson had held a 10-point lead, 43 percent to O’Connor’s 33, in a survey from the same firm.

The Ohio 12th contest, on August 7, is something of a replay of the Pennsylvania special election earlier this year that elected Democrat Conor Lamb to the House. The 12th District, which covers suburban Columbus as well as more rural areas, hasn’t elected a Democrat to Congress since the 1980s. Retired Rep. Pat Tiberi, who readily endorsed Balderson as his successor, won with 67 percent of the vote in 2016. Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 11 points in this district.

But O’Connor does seem to be pulling closer. In addition to the Monmouth survey, his campaign released an internal poll recently that showed him down 3 points.

He is certainly a Lamb-like candidate on policy: O’Connor has slammed Balderson for Republican proposals to cut Medicare and Social Security, while refusing to endorse the priorities of his party’s progressive wing like Medicare-for-all or “Abolish ICE.”