The polls closed on Tuesday evening in Ohio. Yet, as I write this, the only thing clear about Republican Troy Balderson’s slight edge over Democrat Danny O’Connor is that nothing is clear. The race for an open seat in Congress is a few hundred votes apart and still too close.
But this razor-thin, near-tie in a special election — for a seat that will be up for a vote again in November — is nevertheless a huge “trouncing,” both sides are claiming, and proof their party is sure to dominate the midterms.
Late on Tuesday night, as votes were still being counted, the Republican National Committee blasted out their congrats to Balderson, writing: “With President Trump’s support that helped lead him to victory, Troy Balderson’s win tonight is another example of the so-called ‘blue wave’ being nothing but a ripple.”
Er, no. If anything, it’s an example of unexpectedly high Democratic turnout in a district Trump won in 2016 by 11 points. And, to be clear, history, as well as nearly every predictive analysis of the midterms, suggests Republicans will perform poorly in November, particularly in the House.
But welcome to Trump’s America, where losses are wins, ties are trouncings, waves are ripples and facts matter not at all.
This kind of fact-free spin is hardly new in politics, of course. Democrats, too, spun the results as proof of a blue wave. But I was curious to see how average folks interpreted what was essentially a tie in the era of “fake news” and Trump’s “alternative facts.”
And, not surprisingly, there was blind rage and willful ignorance on both sides.
I tweeted the RNC’s statement, and noted the fact — repeat, fact — that Balderson at that time was up .9 points in a Trump +11 district.
I got replies from the left claiming that O’Connor’s likely loss was proof Republicans and Trump — who is poised to be 14 for 14 in primary endorsements — were totally owned:
Doug Johnson (@bleacherscreech) wrote: “10.9% swing in a red gerrymandered district. Whistling past the graveyard #GOP?”
Lynne Charlotte (@lynne_kern) wrote: “Looks like the ripple is in the win. The wave ? NOVEMBER HERE WE COME!”
Ulsterman (@alexcoleraine) wrote: “Tsunamis start off as a ripple, until they hit the shore. Enjoy this ‘victory’ for it will be short lived!”
From the right, my mere questioning of the RNC’s dopey spin made me a Democrat:
dbg (@dbg0501) wrote, “Keep crowing about your moral victories. Whatever makes you feel good. The fact that you’d want a Pelosi running the House is quite telling.”
Others were more creative.
It was the calendar’s fault, said one.
ConservativeEsquire (@ConservEsq) wrote: “People go on vacation in August. Republicans who live in suburbs go on vacation in August.”
Still others blamed the media (of course they did).
Kevin Stuckey (@drberzerko) wrote, “I guess with 90% negative stories by your colleagues and censorship by social media it’s probably a bigger win than your pea brain can admit.”
For a few celebrities, it was all the fault of Green Party candidate Joe Manchik, whose 1,100 votes could have pushed O’Connor over the line:
Billy Eichner (@billyeichner) wrote: “Dear Green Party: Can you PLEASE wait to make your symbolic votes at a time when our government isn’t being overrun by white supremacists??? Come @ me I don’t care.”
And Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) seconded the motion: “You know what sucks? Because of our unwillingness to pass policy that protects our election integrity, I immediately think the Green Party votes tonight are Russian meddling. Why else would anyone cast a protest vote in Ohio when there’s so much at stake?”
Of course, a pungent bouillabaisse of factors could have all contributed to Tuesday’s results. But it’s still just a near tie — in one special election, in one district, in one state.
Apparently, in 2018, that means definitively that my side is kicking your side’s ass. Or just as easily, vice versa.
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