Surging Danny O'Connor could flip a seat Trump won by 11 blue


The picture gets worse and worse for Republican Troy Balderson, who is in danger of losing to Democrat Danny O'Connor, in a district that Trump won by 11 points.

Democratic congressional candidate Danny O'Connor is building up a real head of steam in the special election for Ohio's 12th Congressional District, while Republican Troy Balderson watches his lead slip away.

In a race that's drawing comparisons to Conor Lamb's stunning upset in Pennsylvania earlier this year, O'Connor has energized grassroots support by promising to protect health care and Social Security.

A recent poll commissioned by the O'Connor campaign showed Balderson with a five-point lead. But among voters who say they are "almost certain to vote," O'Connor leads Balderson 49 to 46 percent.

And the polls don't even tell the whole story. Early voting totals in Franklin County have trended overwhelmingly in O'Connor's favor.

According to The Columbus Dispatch, "Democrats have requested more than three times as many mail-in absentee ballots as Republicans have," and they're "crushing the GOP in early in-person voting at the county elections board."

Additionally, registered Democrats have been outvoting in the GOP-dominated Delaware County, which Trump won by 16 points in 2016. And grassroots groups like Indivisible Ohio have noted tremendous enthusiasm from first-time volunteers.

O'Connor is also reaching out to more than just die-hard Democrats. He grew up in deep-red rural Ohio, and can make good use of those roots to connect with Republicans who are frustrated with Trump.

The conservative Columbus Dispatch endorsed O'Connor recently, citing Balderson's blind support of Trump among the reasons. And a recent New York Times profile described how O'Connor won over a Trump voter when knocking on doors in the district — just the sort of grassroots engagement that could put O'Connor over the top.

While O'Connor is doing the hard work of connecting with voters, Balderson has been propped up by outside groups who have dropped six figures into the race. And Republicans like Mike Pence and Paul Ryan have both parachuted in to raise money for Balderson.

But even with all of that help for Balderson, Danny O'Connor is poised to take this Trump seat away on Aug. 7, and become yet another Democratic special election flip on the way to November's blue wave.