Ohio voters voiced their support for the GOP in yesterday’s elections by re-electing all five Republican candidates running for statewide offices in addition to re-electing a Republican majority in the U.S. House and Senate and the State House and Senate.
The results were a blow for Democrats but a huge victory for Republican politicians, including Secretary of State Jon Husted, who said that those who were elected would enjoy their success but work towards the goals they set forth in their campaigns.
“We’re going to make Ohio the greatest state in the nation,” Husted said in a speech after the elections had been called.
Athens residents, in contrast to most of the state, voted for almost all Democratic candidates and successfully elected Debbie Phillips to the U.S. House of Representatives after a close race against Republican Yolan Dennis.
As expected, Republican incumbent John Kasich defeated his Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald easily, winning 64 percent of the vote. Mike DeWine was elected as Attorney General; Dave Yost was elected as Auditor; Jon Husted was elected as Secretary of State; and, in the closest election of the five, Josh Mandel defeated Connie Pillich for Treasurer with 57 percent of the vote.
“I’m just the conductor in the orchestra, I just wave the wands…They have made beautiful music,” Kasich said in his victory speech. “With this tremendous win we are having tonight all across Ohio, in some areas that have very rarely voted Republican there’s a signal that’s being sent that we can face our challenges, we can face our problems and have the courage to answer the bell.
In addition, Republican Steve Stivers was re-elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for District 15, Robert F. Hagan, a current Democratic member of the Ohio House of Representatives, was elected to the State Board of Education from District 8 and Sharon Kennedy and Judi French were elected to the Ohio Supreme Court in a statewide election.
Although many of the races were called soon after polls closed at 7:30 on Tuesday, a few results that were voted on in Athens were too close to determine until later into the evening. These included an Ohio Supreme Court race between French and John O’Donnell, the Ohio House race between Debbie Phillips and Yolan Dennis and the State Treasurer race between Josh Mandel and Connie Pillich.
Mandel’s and French’s results both turned out to be relatively decisive, with Mandel beating Pillich by 13 percent and French defeating O’Donnell by 11 percent. However, Phillips ended up winning her race by only 194 votes — .68 percent.
One of the largest blows suffered by Ohio’s Democratic party yesterday happened when Chris Redfern, the Ohio Democratic Chairman, lost his House race to Republican Steven Kraus. After unofficial results were declared, Redfern announced he would step down as chairman because of his loss.
Third party candidates received a higher percentage of votes this election than in previous years, and gubernatorial candidate Anita Rios, a member of the Green Party, received almost 100,000 votes.
The defeats of Democrats in Ohio reflected a broader trend across the nation of GOP success. Republicans maintained their control of the U.S. House of Representatives and gained control of the U.S. Senate, after Republican Thom Tillis defeated North Carolina’s Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan.
Voter turnout was lower this year than in the 2010 midterm elections in Ohio, reflecting a decreasing nationwide interest in midterm elections across the U.S, according to Gallup poll published Tuesday evening. In 2010, almost 4 million people cast ballots in Ohio, but this year 2.8 million people voted.
In his concession speech, FitzGerald emphasized the importance of Democratic supporters maintaining their goals to expand education access, increase the minimum wage and strive for gender, sexuality and racial or ethnic equality.
“All of these things are not just things that it would be nice to have; they’re things that we need in this state in order to have a state that fulfills the hopes and aspirations that we have for ourselves and our children and our grandchildren,” FitzGerald said. “So especially for anyone in this room that’s in their first campaign, we need you to persevere and continue to fight for all of those principles, not to benefit a specific politician or a specific campaign, but for all of the people in Ohio who deserve so much more than they’re getting.”
Kasich said in his speech Tuesday evening that Ohio’s election results envelop the state in a wider movement.
“You see folks, we’re now part of a movement,” Kasich said. “This is just not another election, another political campaign, this is a movement to restore hope in our state and maybe it can even become contagious with hope being restored all across the United States of America.”
Data visualization by Jaelynn Grisso