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2018 was a big election year in Ohio. Republicans held onto all five statewide executive offices including governor and super majorities in both the Ohio House and Senate. But there were a few bright spots for Democrats, among them the reelection of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and the election of two Democrats to the Ohio Supreme Court.With election 2018 over, the focus now shifts to governing. Stay connected with the latest on politics, policies and people making the decisions at all levels affecting your lives.

Election 2018: Predicting Midterm Outcomes Proves Challenging for Pundit

A native Northeast Ohioan, Kyle Kondik is a frequently cited expert on American politics.

With one week to go until Election Day, many races are too close to call.

Predicting what voters might do this midterm is part of the job for an Ohioan now based in Washington who is managing editor for the weekly political newsletter Sabato’s Crystal Ball produced by the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

Kyle Kondik is also communications director for the Center.  

Kondik thinks Republicans will win by smaller margins in areas where they're used to landslide victories. He says that's because the midterm is a reflection on the White House. He suspects dissatisfaction with the party in power could even lead to some losses in those races.  

Photo of retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal endorsing Ken Harbaugh.
Democrat Ken Harbaugh has mounted a real challenge to unseat incumbent Republican Bob Gibbs in the heavily Republican 7th Ohio congressional district.

Could OH-7 flip to Democrat?
"I think if you’re looking for kind of a deep sleeper for a House race, Ohio 7 is an interesting one," Kondik says. The district covers a largely rural area of northeast and central Ohio. It includes Canton and stretches from near Lake Erie south to Coshocton. Kondik notes that "the district is drawn to elect a Republican." But he's impressed that Democrat Ken Harbaugh is aggressively pushing Republican incumbent Bob Gibbs.

"I’d much rather be Gibbs than Harbaugh given how Republican the district is. But it’s also a real race, and I don’t think it has been in that district the past couple of cycles."

The story is similar in the heavily Republican Ohio 14th district, where Republican Dave Joyce is seeking a fourth term.

photo of Betsy Rader
Democrat Betsy Rader faces an uphill battle in the Republican drawn 14th Ohio congressional district against incumbent Dave Joyce, a former Geauga County prosecutor.

"He is facing a credible challenge from Betsy Rader, a Democrat. I think Joyce has a leg up there," Kondik says. But he notes, "[the district] also has a significant suburban component, and the suburbs seem to be the heart of this anti-Trump sentiment, so one wonders if that could lead to an upset in that race." 

Kondik believes Joyce will prevail. If any of Ohio's 12 Republican-held U.S. House districts flip, he thinks it will be the 12th, north of Columbus or the first, near Cincinnati. 

WEB EXTRA: Kyle Kondik talks about why more voters will likely turnout this midterm.

Who Will Control the U.S. House?
Kondik believes Democrats are in a better position right now to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives. One indicator is which races are attracting third party money. 

"What the trend has been in recent days is Republican outside groups are having to spend money in districts that looked like they were more favorable to Republicans," Kondik says. "So the battleground of competitive seats seems to be expanding." 

While the House is in play, the Senate is solidly red. Kondik thinks Republicans could add to the 51 seats they currently hold in the chamber. He says Democrats never really had a chance to take the Senate, which is why he's resisted utilizing the term "Blue Wave" to describe this midterm. 

"In really big wave years y'know 1994, 2006, 2010 not only did the House flip party control in all three years, but also the party on the right side of the wave netted at least six senate seats, and at least six governorships across the country," he says. 

WEB EXTRA: Republicans will continue to control the Ohio legislature, but Kondik explains why Democrats will be happy if they can win seven additional seats in the state House of Representatives.

Ten Tossups in Gubernatorial Contests
Kondik's Crystal Ball newsletter will make predictions in all of the governor's races before Election Day. But right now it lists ten of those races as tossups, including the race in Ohio. Kondik has some familiarity with Democratic candidate Richard Cordray, for whom he worked when Cordray was Ohio attorney general. 

"My sense is that some of the internal private polling is very, very close," Kondik says. He notes the other races for statewide executive offices are also very tight. But Democrats could get a boost from one candidate.

Sherrod Brown
Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown has a comfortable lead in his campaign to retain his seat.

"Senator Sherrod Brown seems poised to lead the ticket on the Democratic side. He’s pretty significantly favored at this point," Kondik notes.  

Sabato's Crystal Ball comes out every Thursday. It is described as an authoritative, nonpartisan newsletter on American campaigns and elections. You can sign up to receive the newsletterhere.

A Northeast Ohio native, Sarah Taylor graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where she worked at her first NPR station, WMUB. She began her professional career at WCKY-AM in Cincinnati and spent two decades in television news, the bulk of them at WKBN in Youngstown (as Sarah Eisler). For the past three years, Sarah has taught a variety of courses in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State, where she is also pursuing a Master’s degree. Sarah and her husband Scott, have two children. They live in Tallmadge.