Top 10 things to watch in Election 2020

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

This unprecedented election season has been anything but predictable. Amid a pandemic, Americans have shattered early voting records.

Besides a highly anticipated presidential race, all of the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, 33 U.S. Senate seats, all 99 Ohio House seats and 16 of the 33 Ohio Senate seats are on the ballot. Several local candidates and issues also are before voters.

Here are 10 things to watch for on Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

1. Presidential race

After four years, this highly anticipated race is back on the ballot and Ohio will play a key role in its outcome. No Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio. President Donald Trump carried the state in 2016 by an 8-point margin, but a Quinnipiac University poll released last week found that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has a 5% edge over Trump.

ExploreThe road to the White House leads through southwest Ohio. Here’s why.



2. Record turnout

Amid a pandemic, Americans and Ohioans have voted early in record numbers this election. Long lines might still be seen at the polls on Tuesday. Over 2 million Ohioans have already voted before Election Day but that leaves about 6 million registered voters who could show up to the polls. Montgomery County Board of Elections Director Jan Kelly said coronavirus precautions around distancing in the line and using fewer, spaced out machines will adversely impact wait times.

ExploreOhioans and Dayton area vote early in record-breaking numbers

3. Results may take days or weeks

Election night results have never been final. But with Americans requesting mail-in ballots in record numbers, projections on that night might not be conclusive. Winners of some national, state or local races might not be clear until all the absentee and provisional ballots are counted.

ExploreWho gets elected may not be known on election night

4. Who will control the U.S. House and the Senate?

Currently, the Democrats control the House and the Republicans control the Senate. Whether a party comes out of this election controlling both chambers and the presidency or no party gains a trifecta will significantly impact the federal government’s ability to get things done. In the Senate, 23 Republican seats and 12 Democratic seats are up for election. In the House, all 435 seats are on the ballot.

5. Area congressional races to watch

Longtime incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Turner faces newcomer Democrat Desireee Tims for the Ohio 10th Congressional seat. Turner, who is seeking his 10th consecutive term in Congress, has a track record of winning reelection by on average nearly 25 percentage points. The district tilts Republican. A lot of money has been spent on the race. Tims outraised Turner about $1.7 million to $1.4 million.

ExploreTurner seeks 10th term in Congress, points to expansions at Wright-Patt
ExplorePolitical newcomer Tims seeks to topple longtime incumbent

It’s a three-way race for Ohio’s 1st Congressional district that represents all of Warren County and most of Hamilton County. U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati, faces Democrat Kate Schroder, 43, of Cincinnati and Libertarian Kevin David Kahn, 51, of Sims Twp. in Hamilton County. This contest has also attracted a lot of money, with Chabot raising over $2.8 million and Schroder raising over $3.2 million.

ExploreIncumbent and two challengers seek 1st Congressional seat for Warren, Hamilton counties

6. School levies

The Fairborn, Xenia and Franklin school districts are asking residents to invest in new school buildings this election. All three districts are hoping to leverage tax revenue from new bond levies to obtain state funds.

Four school districts that had some form of tax levy fail earlier this year, are again asking voters for funds. Bellbrook, Troy and Preble Shawnee are pushing for new levies to fund operating costs. Beavercreek’s substitute levy would not raise residents' taxes, but it would make permanent the levy that provides a large part of the district’s budget.

ExploreElection 2020: Area districts ask voters to pitch in for new schools

7. Ohio Supreme Court could flip

The Ohio Supreme Court has been in Republican control for 35 years and is expected to settle any cases that arise next year from newly drawn congressional and legislative district maps. Incumbent Republicans Justices Judith French and Sharon Kennedy face Democrats Jennifer Brunner and John P. O’Donnell, respectively. If Brunner and O’Donnell win, Democrats will occupy four of the seven seats on the court. Currently, five seats are held by Republicans.

ExploreBalance of Ohio Supreme Court at stake in 2020 election

8. Montgomery County races

In Montgomery County this election, two county commission seats, the county clerk of courts, recorder, treasurer, common pleas judge and probate judge are on the ballot.

Two Democratic incumbents on the Montgomery County Commission face Republican challengers. Commissioner Judge Dodge faces Republican Arlene Setzer, a former state representative and past mayor of Vandalia. Commissioner Debbie Lieberman faces Republican Bob Matthews, a former Miami Twp. trustee who previously has sought a county commission seat.

Montgomery County Clerk of Courts Mike Foley, a Republican in office for two years, faces Democratic challenger Zach Dickerson, an attorney who works in information technology. Probate Court Magistrate Arvin Miller and local attorney David Brannon are vying for the seat being vacated by current Montgomery County Probate Judge Alice O. McCollum. Local attorneys K. George Kordalis and Susan Solle are competing for the spot being vacated by Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Barbara Gorman. Appointed incumbent Democrat Russ Joseph is vying off with Republican challenger John McManus in the race for the county treasurer position.

9. Beavercreek income tax

Beavercreek, one of four cities in Ohio without an income tax, is asking voters to pass one. City leaders say they want to institute a 1% income tax to avoid frequently asking voters for more money via property tax levies. If the income tax passes, the city will not ask residents to renew a $4.5 million streets levy set to expire at the end of 2021.

ExploreBeavercreek income tax on ballot in November

10. Will the HB6 racketeering scandal impact Ohio legislative races?

The largest public corruption case in Ohio’s history, a $60 million bribery scandal, is casting a shadow this election over alleged perpetrator state Rep. Larry Householder and those prosecutors say he worked to get elected in 2018 using bribe money. Despite pressure, Ohio legislators have not repealed House Bill 6, the controversial energy bailout at the center of the case.

Whether this scandal will impact the electoral chances this year of Republican representatives tied to Householder running for reelection or election to a different office like the state senate, remains to be seen. Householder faces four write-in candidates in the 72nd Ohio House District race.

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