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Polls have closed and the battle between Republican Troy Balderson, 56, and Democrat Danny O’Connor, 31, will be over soon.

Expand chart
Data: Associated Press; Chart: Axios Visuals

Why it matters: Ohio's 12th district should be a dream for the GOP — it’s solidly Republican and overwhelmingly white. But it's considered competitive for the first time in decades. If Republicans can’t pull of a win in a race like this they should be worried about what’s in store for them on Nov. 6.

What to know: A Democrat hasn’t represented this area since 1980. President Trump won the district by 11 points.

  • Republicans have a two-to-one voter registration advantage in the 12th district.
  • Republicans and outside GOP groups have out-spent O'Connor 5-to-1 to help Balderson.
  • There are 79 GOP districts more competitive than OH-12, where Trump got less than the 53% he earned in this district in 2016.

If Democrats win, it’s another sign that their base is turning their anti-Trump energy into showing up to vote. And it’ll add to another unlikely victory after Democrats flipped seats in special elections in Alabama and Pennsylvania.

If Republicans win, they’ll sleep a little easier in the weeks leading to November knowing they still have a stronghold on the Midwest. They won’t be able to replicate their expensive playbook in every competitive race, but they’ll have a few lessons — like where and how to spend their money — that’ll come in hand throughout the country.

Let’s go to the data … FiveThirtyEight reports, since 2017 "the margins of federal special elections have shifted [toward Dems] by an average of 16 percentage points." If Ohio follows that trend, O’Connor would win by 2 points (a recent poll showed him leading by 1 point).

Bottom line: Republicans can’t afford to lose the open seat in Ohio’s 12th district to Democrats.

Go deeper

California governor declares drought emergency for entire state

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speakinng to reporters in Los Angeles in September. Photo: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) extended a drought emergency declaration to cover the entire state on Tuesday.

Why it matters: "California is experiencing its worst drought since the late 1800s, as measured by both lack of precipitation and high temperatures," per a statement from the governor's office. This past August was the driest and hottest one on record, "and the water year that ended last month was the second driest on record," the statement added.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Reports: Brazil leader to be accused of crimes against humanity over COVID

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Andressa Anholete/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Brazilian Senate panel will recommend President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with "crimes against humanity," alleging his COVID-19 pandemic response led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, per the New York Times and the Washington Post.

The latest: The lawmakers initially said Bolsonaro should be charged with mass homicide and genocide, but lawmakers updated the report to replace these recommendations with the new charge, its lead author, Sen. Renan Calheiros, told the NYT.

Updated 6 hours ago - World

North Korea claims latest missile test new weapon launched from submarine

North Korean state media claims the country's military fired this missile on Tuesday. Photo: Korean Central News Agency

North Korean state media announced that a detected ballistic missile launch off its east coast on Tuesday was a newly developed weapon test-fired from a submarine.

Why it matters: Pyongyang's latest in a series of recent missile launches into the sea happened hours after U.S. officials emphasized their commitment to restart negotiations on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, which have stalled since talks broke down during the Trump administration, AP notes.