The biggest political betting event of 2018 will be November’s mid-term US Congressional Elections. Three months out, Betfair markets rate control of the House of Representatives a virtually even contest, with the Democrats slight favourites at 1.91. Republicans remain hot favourites to win the Senate at 1.37.
Ohio 12 is an excellent bellweather for the mid-terms
More imminently, Tuesday sees the final special election of this cycle and a race in Ohio which some experts are defining as the ultimate bellweather for what will happen in November. Donald Trump won Ohio’s 12th Congressional District by a 53/42 margin at the 2016 election and a defeat for his party could signal grave implications for his presidency. Again, Betfair markets are currently calling it a roughly even split.
Strangely, there has been a dearth of polling. The latest from Monmouth, showing Republican Troy Balderson just 1% ahead of Danny O’Connor, has caused a big stir. Six weeks previously, Balderson had led by 11%, which would be entirely normal for a district hasn’t voted Democrat since the 1980s. In the absence of more numbers, bettors must decide whether that poll was an outlier or if the Democrat campaign is really cutting through.
Victory for O’Connor would indeed be significant. Ohio is arguably the most important swing state and the Rust Belt the region that effectively determines the presidency. Even at his lowest point of his candidacy, Trump was a popular bet to win a state where the demographics worked in his favour and his MAGA message played well.
That said, this historically Republican district is not ideal Trump territory. Ohio 12 – a mixture of rural and suburbia – is the most educated district in the state. A very different brand of moderate, inclusive conservatism, exemplified by popular governor and long-term Trump critic John Kasich, has been the key to winning those suburban voters.