For some voters, financial prosperity was not sufficient to allay a deeper sense of unease. Pam Moore, 57, mentioned that despite the fact that “my stocks are doing well,” she voted for Mr. O’Connor. She mentioned Mr. Trump scares her.
“I’m afraid he’s going to make some crazy decision that could turn us around in the wrong direction,” mentioned Ms. Moore, who works in the mortgage division of a financial institution.
Josh Wickham, 38, a group school administrator, voted for Mr. Trump in 2016 however for Mr. O’Connor on Tuesday. He mentioned he needed a Democratic-majority House to be a verify on the president, particularly over some conservative social positions the White House has promoted. A sister of Mr. Wickham’s is married to a different girl and is “terrified,” he mentioned, of a conservative Supreme Court reversing same-sex marriage.
The particular election was set in movement earlier this 12 months by the resignation of Pat Tiberi, a nine-term incumbent who give up halfway via his time period to take over a enterprise affiliation again in the state capital. Republicans initially believed they might maintain the district with relative ease, as long as they nominated a mainstream candidate. And so the get together labored aggressively to steer Mr. Balderson, 56, via a contested major that he barely gained.
But Mr. O’Connor, the 31-year-old county recorder in Franklin County, which incorporates Columbus and is essentially the most Democratic-leaning a part of the district, proved unexpectedly formidable as a challenger, amassing extra money for his marketing campaign than Mr. Balderson and assailing the Republican as a risk to widespread well being care and retirement-security packages. And Mr. O’Connor aligned himself in his rhetoric with Gov. John R. Kasich, Ohio’s Republican chief govt who’s an outspoken critic of Mr. Trump, and who withheld his endorsement from Mr. Balderson till the final week of the race.
Mr. Balderson struggled to boost cash and saved a modest marketing campaign schedule, forcing Republican exterior teams to bail him out with costly impartial promoting campaigns. And regardless of fears about unsettling swing voters, Republicans finally known as on Mr. Trump to assist fire up help for Mr. Balderson amongst conservatives who have been principally tuned out of the race.
Mr. O’Connor might have handed Mr. Balderson a decisive present in the ultimate levels of the race when he appeared to melt his pledge to oppose Ms. Pelosi in a tv interview. The transient fumble gave Republicans a worthwhile opening to assault Mr. O’Connor as a traditional Democratic partisan in a district that leans effectively to the precise.
It stays to be seen whether or not Republicans can deploy their Ohio rescue technique to the identical impact in different areas of the nation: Democrats are contesting dozens of extra average Republican-held districts this fall, and the G.O.P. won’t be able to recreate a 5-to-1 spending benefit throughout all the House battlefield. But by dragging Mr. Balderson near victory, the get together averted a defeat that might have dealt a crushing blow to its morale with three months left in the marketing campaign.