Current vote counts show Democrats have guaranteed wins in 39 of Ohio’s 99 House districts – with two races still too close to call (Matt Patten and Joshua O’Farrell). As JoinTheFuture points out, Democrats actually won the popular vote in Ohio’s House races by 56,000 votes and yet Republicans could end up winning in 60 of the 99 House districts.
You can blame last year’s Republican-controlled redistricting (read: gerrymandering) process in which 18 house districts were modified to make them much easier for Republicans to win, with 62 of the seats leaning over 50% Republican and many now leaning Republican by over 55%.
Despite the gerrymandering and a 4-to-1 spending advantage on the part of Republicans, Democrats managed to keep the make up of the House pretty much the same. As a matter of fact, it may turn out that Alcohol and strippers have done more to change the make up of the Ohio House in the past two years than all the money the GOP burned through in this election.
Which brings me back to the two undecided races.
Having 39 seats vs. 40 or 41 seats may not seem like a big deal. Either way, Democrats aren’t going to get any of their legislation past the Republican majority. But the difference between Democrats having 39 and 40 seats is actually quite important. With 60 seats Republicans would gain a super-majority, enabling them to swiftly pass the extreme legislation that they currently have on the table, like defunding Planned Parenthood and one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the country, and any other crazy bills they can dream up. Right-to-Work? A ban on gay adoption? Arizona-like anti-immigrant laws?
There are currently thousands of uncounted provisional and absentee ballots that could push the Democrats over the top in these races. And both sides are lawyering up for the fight.
A reader recently asked why the Ohio Democratic Party was sending out fundraising emails related to these undecided house races. The answer should now be obvious: lawyers aren’t cheap.