Tags: Ohio

How Much Will Cuyahoga’s Vote Drop from 2008?


Over at Third Base Politics, a right-leaning blog covering Ohio politics, they think turnout in Cuyahoga County — which includes Cleveland and its suburbs — is down dramatically from 2008. This is a county that Obama won, 69 percent to 30 percent, in 2008.

They summarize:

Data from the Secretary of State showed 253,000 early votes already cast in Cuyahoga County. 

23% of in-person voting using total registered Cuyahoga County voters from 2008 would be 255,595 votes for a total of around 508,000 votes.

In 2008, Cuyahoga ended up casting a little more than 678,000 votes.

That means that as of 5:00pm, Cuyahoga County is approximately 170,000 votes short of its 2008 total.

They add, “Reports are that suburban Cuyahoga is over-performing right now, so things may be even worse than these terrible numbers appear.”

Tags: Early Voting , Ohio

Romney Narrowly Holding Bellwether Ohio County, N.H. Towns


Credit Suffolk for doing some of the most interesting polling of this cycle. Rather than toss another statewide poll onto the pile, they took a detailed look at one bellwether county in Ohio and two bellwether towns in New Hampshire. The verdict? Good news for Romney, but not much room for comfort:

In Lake County, Romney led Obama 47 percent to 43 percent with Independent Richard Duncan receiving 4 percent and Stewart Alexander (Socialist Party) receiving 1 percent, while 2 percent were undecided and 4 percent refused a response. Romney led 49 percent to 44 percent among those planning to cast ballots and led 43 percent to 41 percent among those who had already voted. Duncan, an Ohioan listed on the presidential ballot, received most of his support from voters who have already cast ballots for him in Lake County, causing neither major candidate to reach a decisive 50 percent there.

“What better place to decide this presidential election than on the banks of Lake Erie,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “A word of caution about Lake County. It is widely recognized as an Ohio bellwether, correctly predicting the last four presidential elections. But there have been some elections where it has trended more Republican. That was the case in 1996 and 2008, where Lake County voted for the Democratic nominees who won, but still leaned more Republican than the statewide vote.”

Meanwhile, over in the Granite State:

Two New Hampshire towns, Epping and Milford, have mirrored the statewide New Hampshire vote in four out of four presidential elections going back to 1996. In Milford, Romney led Obama 51 percent to 46 percent and in Epping, a closer bellwether, Romney led Obama 49 percent to 47 percent.

At the link they provide the history of the county and towns and how they compare statewide.

Of course, any trend may be broken. Vigo County, Indiana, is a county that has voted for the winner in every election since 1956 and is being mentioned as a bellwether again this cycle — except the Obama campaign hasn’t really contested Indiana this cycle, and Romney’s expected to win the state by a healthy margin — so perhaps the dynamics in Vigo won’t be quite as representative of the country as a whole this cycle.

One local station did call 100 residents, a quite small sample: “The result: 42 residents planning to vote for President Barack Obama and 48 in favor of Governor Mitt Romney; which matches other polls across the country.”

The web-comic XKCD made a humorous observation about precedents in presidential campaigns.

Tags: Barack Obama , Indiana , Mitt Romney , New Hampshire , Ohio

Despite Long Lines, Early Vote Down in Ohio’s Key Counties


Peter Hamby of CNN reports, “Dems in Ohio blowing up early vote today in blue counties like Cuyahoga, Lucas, Franklin. Some GOP anxiety about it.”

The lines are long, but they’re still shorter than they were four years ago, and barring some off-the-charts surge on the final day, fewer voters will cast ballots in at least two key counties than they did in 2008.

Cuyahoga County saw 2,536 voters Sunday, but that is down almost a thousand from the same day four years ago. In total votes, Cuyahoga County is now 14.7 percent behind where they were four years ago.

Through Sunday, 42,511 Cuyahoga County voters cast ballots early; four years ago, that number was 49,849. In 2008, 4,481 Cuyahoga County voters cast ballots on the Monday before the election.

On the other side of the state, Hamilton County saw 1,144 voters, which was less than the totals from Saturday (and every other day this week). Four years ago Sunday Obama held a rally in this county, so only four voters voted early. But among voters who did not vote in the Republican primary, the early vote turnout is 12 percent behind those totals from four years ago.

Tags: Early Voting , Ohio

Early Vote Down 15 Percent in Cleveland, Cincinnati


On the Thursday before Election Day in 2008, 4,583 people voted early in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, which includes Cleveland.

This was a stronghold for the Obama campaign; on Election Day, Obama carried the county 69 percent to 30 percent for John McCain.

Yesterday 2,963 people voted.

Again, some of that may be because of people being preoccupied with cleaning up storm damage, etc. But overall, by this point in 2008, 39,110 Cuyahoga County residents had voted early. As of Thursday, 33,140 have — about a 15 percent drop. And note that the early voting was ahead of the 2008 pace until Saturday.

I’m told by an Ohio reader watching the numbers in Hamilton County (which includes Cincinnati) that they see a similar pattern in that corner of the state — early voting on pace until October 25, then a slowdown that has been consistent — about 1,500 early votes per day this week, instead of the 2,000 or so this county saw four years ago. This county — where Obama won, 52 percent to 47 percent, four years ago — is also 15 percent below last cycle’s total.

“Either they are running out of buses to transport the voters or they are running out of voters,” my Ohio reader concludes.

Tags: Early Voting , Ohio

Romney’s Friday Night Ohio Rally Features . . . Everyone. EVERYONE.


Coming to Romney’s Ohio rally Friday night: EVERYONE.

And we’ve just learned moments ago that Kid Rock will perform!

Get off work early! Rearrange your schedule! Do whatever it takes to attend. Bring your family and friends. We want to make this a media event that the lamestream media cannot ignore to show the growing momentum Romney has all across America!

In addition to Mitt and Ann Romney and Paul and Janna Ryan, the Romney campaign has announced that the following will attend: 

John McCain and his wife, Cindy; former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal; Texas Gov. Rick Perry; Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback; Sens. Rob Portman (Ohio), Marco Rubio (Fla.), John Thune (S.D.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (N.H.); former senator Norm Coleman (Minn.); former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani; former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge; Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus; Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Utah); former congressman Artur Davis (Ala.); Olympic champion speed skater Derek Parra; Olympic champion figure skater Scott Hamilton; champion golfer Jack Nicklaus; as well as Tagg and Jen Romney, Matt and Laurie Romney, Josh Romney, Ben Romney and Craig and Mary Romney, and BFA Chairman James Irvine.

When: Friday, November 2, 2012 

Doors Open 4:30 PM 

Event Begins 7:00 PM 

Where: The Square at Union Centre

9285 Centre Pointe Drive

West Chester, Ohio 45069   

All attendees will go through airport-like security and should bring as few personal items as possible. No bags, sharp objects, umbrellas, liquids, or signs will be allowed in the venue. Cameras are permitted. Sorry, no CCW.

Click here to RSVP and get your ticket.

Or pick up your ticket in person at your local Victory Center:

Liberty Township Victory Center

4879 Mercedes Drive, Liberty Township, Ohio 45011

Colerain Victory Center

8240 Clara Ave, Colerain Township, Ohio 45239

Kenwood Victory Center

8220 Northcreek Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45236

Lebanon Victory Center

30 West Main Street, Lebanon, Ohio 45036

Friends of John Boehner

7908 Cincinnati-Dayton Road Suite I, West Chester, Ohio 45069

Tags: Ohio

The Early Vote Is Slowing Down in Cincinnati, Too


Below I noted that the early voters in heavily Democratic Cuyahoga County, Ohio (which includes Cleveland), are behind where they were on this day in 2008 — 30,177, compared to 34,527 four years ago. (Some of that is due to Sandy-related bad weather, but the slowdown actually began before the storm.)

A Campaign Spot reader has been watching the early vote in Hamilton County, Ohio, the county that includes Cincinnati. It’s a bit less heavily Democratic; Obama won there, 52 percent to 47 percent, in 2008. But it is the third-most populous county in Ohio.

This reader notes that overall, early votes are 7 percent behind the same point in 2008. What’s more, they have cross-checked the early voters with those who voted in the state’s Republican primary — and determined that non-Republican primary voters are now down 14 percent from the level of four years ago.

As in Cuyahoga County, the early vote was on par with the 2008 rate until about October 25 or so. So if one wanted to conclude that the Obama campaign’s get-out-the-vote-early efforts were merely picking the lowest-hanging fruit of the most loyal and motivated Democrats, and that they’re running out of those voters . . . well, the early voting rate in two of Ohio’s three most populous counties would seem to strengthen that argument.

Tags: Early Voting , Ohio

Cuyahoga County Early Vote Slips Behind 2008 Pace


The remains of Hurricane Sandy are pelting the states beyond the eastern seaboard with rain, snow, and high winds. A bit further east, millions are without power from Virginia to Massachusetts, trees have damaged homes and blocked roads, New York City is a mess, with its subways out of commission for the foreseeable future, much of Hoboken is still underwater, phone lines are down in many areas, and the Gallup tracking poll is suspended until at least Wednesday.

Early voting is likely to be disrupted in many of the suffering states, if not put on hiatus entirely. One of the big stories of this election had been both campaigns’ focus on getting out the early vote, and many analysts expected that the early vote would outpace the 30 percent who voted early in 2008. But as of Monday, we really can’t compare this cycle to the past cycle.

But even then, there are some interesting signals. A reader noticed that yesterday, the cumulative in-person early vote in Cuyahoga County fell behind the 2008 pace, and wonders “if it’s a sign that the Obama early vote in Ohio was front-loaded.” This is the county that includes Cleveland and that Obama won, 69 percent to 30 percent, in 2008.

Early voting in Ohio begins 35 days before Election Day. For the first 24 days of early voting, the pace of 2012 ran slightly ahead of the 2008 pace. They recorded 1,895 votes on this year’s first day, compared to 696 four years ago; 12,771 votes with three weeks to Election Day, compared to 10,616 votes on the same day four years ago; and so on. But with eight days remaining until Election Day, 26,386 early votes have been cast in Cuyahoga County, compared to 27,529 with eight days to go in 2008.

In 2008, 54,340 Cuyahoga County residents voted early; this year’s accumulated vote amounts to 48 percent of last year’s total. The early voting did pick up in the final days before Election Day, so in a normal cycle, we might see a pickup. But with this new complication of weather yesterday and today, early voting is likely to slip significantly for at least a few days.

There’s one other wrinkle: The number of registered voters, both statewide and in Cuyahoga County, is down significantly:

The deadline to register to vote in Ohio has passed. About 7.9 million people are registered to vote in Ohio for the November election. Though that number is expected to slightly increase, that’s down from about 8.2 million registered to vote in 2008.

In Cuyahoga County alone, there are about 80,000 fewer registered voters than there were four years ago.

The bottom line is that turnout this year is probably going to be slightly lower than in 2008, and each party’s early-vote effort may indeed be “cannibalizing” the Election Day vote. But in many of these key states — Ohio, Virginia, New Hampshire, and now Pennsylvania — the early vote is likely to slow to a trickle.

Tags: Barack Obama , Early Voting , Hurricanes , Ohio

The Early Vote Totals This Saturday Morning


One of the lines you’ll hear periodically is that President Obama’s chances look better than some polls might suggest, because he’s running up his vote totals in early voting.

Larry Schweikart points out that at least in Ohio, the early vote is much closer than it was in 2008.

An Ohio history professor’s analysis of absentee ballot requests found a significant shift in Republican enthusiasm in the battleground state since 2008.

The University of Dayton’s Larry Schweikart tallied absentee ballot requests so far in 2012 and compared them to similar requests four years ago. His review showed a 7-point swing in favor of the GOP.

Still more Democrats than Republicans requested early ballots, but Democrats’ percentage advantage has shifted from 33-19 in 2008 to 30-23 this year.

Last night, he went through the county-by-county trend here. Over in the Corner, Josh Jordan finds the same phenomenon.

Earlier in the week, we noted that there was dramatic shifts in favor of the GOP in Tennessee and North Carolina, with 50,000 votes in. Now with about 150,000 votes in, the registered Democrats have regained the lead. (Keep in mind, this is only the registered party ID, not whether the voter is casting a ballot for a Republican and Democrat.)

In Nevada, Democrats did manage to create a registered-voter gap that was almost as large as the one in 2008, but the number of absentee ballot requests is much closer.

In Iowa, 48.8 percent of returned ballots have come from registered Democrats, 30.5 percent from registered Republicans,  and 20.6 percent from other or independent.

In Florida, 45 percent of the ballots cast have come from registered Republicans, 39.5 percent have come from registered Democrats, and 15.6 percent from other.

Also note that it is possible to read too much into the early votes. Many of the figures above come from the Elections Project at George Mason University run by professor Michael McDonald. He offered this assessment in mid-October 2010:

For pollsters conducting surveys in Ohio, these high levels of early voting will force them to modify their likely voter modeling to account for people who have already voted. Finally, early voting in these counties raises a good question how the much-discussed enthusiasm gap towards Republicans will actually play out when it comes to voting.

UPDATE: A helpful reader pointed me to Iowa statistics, which tell a similar story as Ohio. Someone forgot to tell Democratic voters about the enthusiasm gap. 42% of the 119,430 early voters in Iowa are registered Democrats compared with 29% registered as Republican. A county-by-county analysis shows registered Democrats in Iowa returning their mail ballots at a higher rate than Republicans.

Of course, Republicans won the statewide races in Ohio and Iowa handily in 2010.

Nationwide, about 3.3 million votes have been cast already.

Tags: Early Voting , Ohio

New Ohio Ad: Aid to Egypt Over Funding for Schools?


Secure America Now is hitting the airwaves in Florida and Ohio with a pair of pretty brutal ads. Neither one endorses a candidate, but it’s pretty clearly a message slamming the administration for policies the group deems a giveaway to the Muslim Brotherhood, and an insufficiently supportive policy towards Israel.

The first contends that the administration wants to give $450 million in foreign aid to “an Egypt led by the Muslim Brotherhood” instead of your local schools.

Count the themes: wasteful foreign aid, soft on Islamist groups, neglecting our schools . . .

The second features Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking in Jerusalem on September 11, warning the world to start drawing red lines against Iran’s nuclear weapons development.

Three guesses on which swing state where this ad will run.

Secure America Now says they’ll spend $1 million on airing these ads in the two states.

Tags: Barack Obama , Milwaukee , Heidi Heitkamp , Florida , John Sununu , Ohio

Romney’s Path Without Ohio


The Romney campaign reveals its internals in Ohio to Byron York: “Dead even.”

On NRO’s home page, I take a detailed look at the “how Romney can win without Ohio” scenarios. The good news is that with the current batch of polling, it’s pretty easy to get Romney to 261 electoral votes. The bad news is, without Ohio, getting those final nine is pretty challenging, at least for now: Win Wisconsin, or win both Iowa and Nevada.

Tags: Barack Obama , Mitt Romney , Ohio

This Morning’s Polls Project More Heavily Democratic Electorates Than in 2008


This morning, surveys from the New York Times/CBS/Quinnipiac puts Obama ahead by 10 in Ohio, up by 12 in Pennsylvania, and up by 9 in Florida.

Since the question of whether the party ID within polling samples is realistic seems to be the issue of the week, let’s take a look at how these samples stack up to the 2008 exit polls.

Ohio 2008 exits: 39 percent Democrat, 31 percent Republican, 30 percent Independent.

Ohio New York Times/Quinnipiac 2012 sample: 35 percent Democrat, 26 percent Republican, 35 percent Independent.

In this sample, the partisan split is D+9 compared to D+8 four years ago, and the GOP is five percentage points smaller than in 2008.

Over in the Weekly Standard, Jay Cost looks at recent Ohio polls and “finds Gravis, Washington Post, and Fox basically see a replay of 2008 while Rasmussen and the Purple Poll see roughly something in between 2004 and 2008.” They envision Democrat turnout being on par with last cycle or even better . . . and this surge of Democratic enthusiasm comes at the same time the president has lost considerable ground among independents. Possible? I suppose, but again, why?

Pennsylvania 2008 exits: 44 percent Democrat, 37 percent Republican, 18 percent Independent.

Pennsylvania New York Times/Quinnipiac 2012 sample: 39 percent Democrat, 28 percent Republican, 27 percent Independent.

Somehow a D+7 split has turned into D+11 split, and Republicans’ share of the electorate is nine percentage points less than they were four years ago.

Florida 2008 exits: 37 percent Democrat, 34 percent Republican, 29 percent Independent.

Florida New York Times/Quinnipiac 2012 sample: 36 percent Democrat, 27 percent Republican, 33 percent Independent.

Each party’s share only shifts a few percentage points, but the overall split goes from D+3 to D+9.

Three factors that are quasi-defenses of the current pollsters:

1) Perhaps conservative or Republican-leaning voters are more likely to flip between identifying themselves as independents or GOP. Perhaps these are Tea Party conservatives fed up with a GOP they find too “establishment,” etc. If the Democratic share of the vote were stable, it would just mean voters are shifting between these two other self-classifications.

2) Party ID solidifies as Election Day gets closer. Someone noted yesterday that a voter is more likely to self-identify with a major party just before or just after they’ve cast a vote for a major party’s candidate. The polls in late October may have higher percentages of voters identifying with the GOP, the Democrats, or both.

3) Conversely, in an extremely negative campaign environment, voters may be reluctant to identify with either party; a view of “a pox on both your houses” may make some voters prefer to identify as independents. So perhaps self-identified independents’ share of the vote is going to be higher this cycle than in 2008.

Notice that in Florida, Romney’s winning independents, 49 percent to 46 percent; in Ohio, Romney is leading independents 47 percent to 46 percent (although that’s down from a 48–41 lead in late August) and in Pennsylvania . . . well, Quinnipiac didn’t provide the breakdown of independents in the Keystone State.

Tags: Barack Obama , Florida , Mitt Romney , Ohio , Pennsylvania , Polling

How Do You Get Romney’s Ship Moving in Ohio? Rowe.


Leading off the Wednesday edition of the Morning Jolt . . .

Endorsing Romney in Ohio May Be Hard Work, but Don’t Call It a Dirty Job

I don’t know if I want to say “game-changer,” but this certainly seems like an endorsement with the sort of blue-collar resonance that is worth more than most of the television commercials, mailers, robocalls, and so on.

Politics can be a muddy business. Enter “Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe.

The Discovery Channel personality and Ford Motor Co. pitchman will offer his support Wednesday to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney at a public event in Bedford Heights. Romney’s campaign announced the Rowe endorsement late Monday when confirming Romney’s Cleveland-area itinerary for the final day of a two-day bus tour through battleground Ohio.

Rowe made headlines this month for an open letter he wrote to Romney, seeking a “national conversation” on skilled labor and “about what we value in the workforce.” Rowe opened the letter by pledging to vote for Romney if he read the whole thing. A campaign aide later Tweeted a photo of Romney reading the letter.

(Rowe closed the letter by saying he wrote to President Barack Obama four years ago but received no response.)

Rowe’s open letter, by the way, was brilliant:

Most of [our economic] “problems” were in fact symptoms of something more fundamental — a change in the way Americans viewed hard work and skilled labor. That’s the essence of what I’ve heard from the hundreds of men and women I’ve worked with on Dirty Jobs. Pig farmers, electricians, plumbers, bridge painters, jam makers, blacksmiths, brewers, coal miners, carpenters, crab fisherman, oil drillers . . . they all tell me the same thing over and over, again and again — our country has become emotionally disconnected from an essential part of our workforce. We are no longer impressed with cheap electricity, paved roads, and indoor plumbing. We take our infrastructure for granted, and the people who build it.

Today, we can see the consequences of this disconnect in any number of areas, but none is more obvious than the growing skills gap. Even as unemployment remains sky high, a whole category of vital occupations has fallen out of favor, and companies struggle to find workers with the necessary skills. The causes seem clear. We have embraced a ridiculously narrow view of education. Any kind of training or study that does not come with a four-year degree is now deemed “alternative.” Many viable careers once aspired to are now seen as “vocational consolation prizes,” and many of the jobs this current administration has tried to “create” over the last four years are the same jobs that parents and teachers actively discourage kids from pursuing. (I always thought there something ill-fated about the promise of three million “shovel ready jobs” made to a society that no longer encourages people to pick up a shovel.)

But I’m sure the president, as the de facto CEO of Government General Motors, can get one of their pitchmen to endorse him.

Tags: Mike Rowe , Mitt Romney , Ohio

Obama, Having a Quayle Moment in the Buckeye State


Look at the bright side, Democrats; I’m fairly certain the president and his supporters can spell Y-M-C-A.

Above, the president and three of his fans attempt to spell out “O-H-I-O” at a Buckeye State campaign stop. Of course, they’re spelling out O-I-H-O. (The image is not Photoshopped, as the Washington Post apparently claimed without evidence.)

It’s a good thing that the president won’t be doing much campaigning in states that are spelled, say, M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I. Of course, to do so, Obama would need to find ten supporters willing to be photographed in the heavily Republican state.

Tags: Barack Obama , Ohio

Quinnipiac Romney Close, Mandel Gaining in Ohio


The news out of Ohio from Quinnipiac this morning represents modest improvement for Republicans, but no reason to break out the party hats yet:

The presidential race in Ohio remains too close to call as President Barack Obama gets 45 percent to 44 percent for Republican Mitt Romney, with a 45 – 45 percent dead heat if the GOP adds home-state Sen. Rob Portman as Romney’s running mate, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Ohio’s other U.S. Senator, Sherrod Brown, holds a 46 – 40 percent lead over State Treasurer Josh Mandel, the Republican challenger, compared to a 46 – 36 percent Brown lead in a March 29 survey by the independent Quinnipiac University. This is the first survey showing the race in single digits.

The Romney-Portman v. Obama-Biden match up compares to a February 15 survey in which Obama had 46 percent to Romney’s 44 percent without running mates, moving to Obama-Biden at 47 percent to Romney-Portman at 43 percent.

Notice Romney is winning independents in Ohio, 43 percent to 39 percent; white women split 44 percent to 44 percent.

The news of Mandel looking more competitive is more significant, as Brown appeared to be a vulnerable incumbent in a swing state that shifted heavily to Republicans in 2010 . . . but one who enjoyed a healthy lead so far (although notice how consistently Brown’s support tops out in the high 40s). One of the ways Republicans can maximize their chances of retaking the Senate is to put as many of the cycle’s races “in play,” and for now, Ohio looks like it will be “in play.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Josh Mandel , Mitt Romney , Ohio , Sherrod Brown

Ohio: Santorum Still Ahead, But Romney Gaining


This morning Quinnipiac finds Ohio’s Republican presidential primary tightening, but Rick Santorum still leads:

The Republican presidential face-off in Ohio is too close to call as former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has 35 percent of likely Republican primary voters to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s 31 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

This compares to a 36 – 29 percent Santorum lead in a February 27 survey by the independent Quinnipiac University poll, the day before the hotly-contested Michigan primary.

In today’s survey, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has 17 percent, with 12 percent for Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul.  Among voters who name a candidate, 34 percent say they still might change their mind by Tuesday.

The gender gap might have hurt Santorum in Michigan, but it’s not cropping up in the Buckeye State, or at least not yet.

Santorum leads Romney 34 – 28 percent among men and 37 – 33 percent among women, 40 – 27 percent among self-described conservatives and 42 – 25 percent among Tea Party members.  Romney leads Santorum 46 – 26 percent among self-described moderates.

“At this point, the Buckeye State is too close to call and is clearly a two-man race between Sen. Rick Santorum and Gov. Mitt Romney,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.  “A third of the electorate say they still might change their mind.  With five days until Super Tuesday, they certainly will be exposed to enough negative television ads to provide fodder for those who might want to switch – or switch off.”

From February 29 – March 1, Quinnipiac University surveyed 517 Ohio likely Republican primary voters with a margin of error of +/- 4.3 percentage points. 

Another fascinating wrinkle: working-class populist Rick Santorum is winning among those making more than $100,000 per year, 42 percent to 33 percent for Romney.

Meanwhile, among those making $30,000 per year or less… Romney narrowly leads Santorum, 33 percent to 32 percent.

Narratives. Who needs ‘em?

Tags: Mitt Romney , Ohio , Rick Santorum

Has Ohio’s Wave of Union Power Crested?


This morning, new numbers from Quinnipiac suggest that the political muscle of unions in Ohio may be less resilient than last fall’s referendum suggested:

Despite the overwhelming victory by organized labor and its allies in repealing SB 5 in this past election, by 54 – 40 percent Ohio voters favor the idea of passing a “right-to-work” law that would ban workers from being required to join a union as a condition of employment, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today…

Gov. John Kasich’s job approval numbers remain poor, although they are getting better, as 40 percent of registered voters approve of how he is doing his job compared to 46 percent who disapprove of how he is running the Buckeye State.  Those numbers are little changed from the negative 39 – 48 percent job approval rating in a January 19 survey by the independent Quinnipiac University, but are better than the negative 36 – 52 percent approval rating in an October 25, 2011, poll.

“Given the assumption that the SB 5 referendum was a demonstration of union strength in Ohio, the 54 – 40 percent support for making Ohio a ‘right-to-work’ state does make one take notice,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.  “In the SB 5 referendum independent voters, who are generally the key to Ohio elections, voted with the pro-union folks to repeal the law many viewed as an effort to handicap unions.  The data indicates that many of those same independents who stood up for unions this past November on SB 5 are standing up to unions by backing ‘right-to-work’ legislation.”

Support for “right-to-work” is 77 – 20 percent among Republicans and 55 – 39 percent among independent voters.  Democrats are opposed 61– 31 percent.

Tags: John Kasich , Ohio , Unions

Mitt vs. ‘Rick Rombachcaingrichsman’


In the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt . . .

Oh Wait, You Meant THOSE Ohio Ballot Initiatives?

A reader writes in, “I hope you write something about Mitt Romney’s clarification today on his ‘Bold, Groundbreaking Form of Hesitation.’ It took him 12 hours (was it even that long??) to say that of course he backed John Kasich’s law, as he stated earlier this year. His position is consistent. I tend to believe him when he says it was a misunderstanding of the questions being posed him, but I’m already planning on voting for him.”

The latest from Romney:

“I fully support Gov. Kasich’s Question 2 in Ohio,” Romney said at a campaign stop in Virginia Wednesday. “I’m sorry if I created any confusion there.” Romney said he did not want to weigh in on the other Ohio ballot issues and meant to express his lack of familiarity with those issues on Tuesday.

Before reading Romney’s response, I had Tweeted the imaginary response, “Oh, you mean THOSE reforms enacted by Kasich and Ohio Republicans? Oh, I love those like bonbons.” Turns out, I wasn’t that far off.

Michael Brendan Dougherty offers some interesting inside chatter on infighting in the Ohio Republican Party: “The Ohio feud that led to the incident is between Republican Governor John Kasich and state GOP Chairman Kevin DeWine. . . . Two sources with ties to Governor Kasich suggested that the Romney appearance was designed to humiliate Ohio’s governor. Specifically, they suggested, Romney was advised not to take a side on this unpopular issue. ’I can tell you that those [DeWine's] sentiments [about Issue 2] have been made clear to governor Romney. The opinion of those close to the [Ohio] chairman is that Romney should stay as far away from this thing as possible. That it is unpopular,’ said the experienced operative.”

But in the end, the new details aren’t as exculpatory as one would hope. Even if Romney’s being told, moments before his public appearance, that the referenda are likely to pass and Kasich’s reforms rescinded, the man ultimately responsible for what comes out of Mitt Romney’s mouth is Mitt Romney. What did he think the phone bank in front of him was calling voters about? Why couldn’t he just have reverted to a default, “I stand with John Kasich” or “I think that tough reforms are needed, even if they’re controversial or unpopular, to prevent harder times down the road” or some other generic and vague statement of support?

For what it’s worth, Bytor at Third Base Politics isn’t quite sure this story adds up: “It’s not the best kept secret that Kevin DeWine and Kasich aren’t close, to put it kindly. It’s also known that current Secretary of State Jon Husted wants to be governor, and that DeWine is fully behind him. But if there is animosity towards Kasich, what does it gain DeWine by embarrassing him now? If he damages Kasich, he also damages the Republican party in Ohio and hurts Husted’s chances in the future. Would DeWine really do that to satisfy a personal grudge of some kind?”

Ann Althouse: “It’s good for Romney to stand aloof from Ohio’s overheated collective bargaining mess, especially if the side he’d have to take is about to acquire the stink of losing. But do that standing somewhere where aloofness looks prettier.”

Tina Korbe: “As it turns out, he probably had good reason to ignore the ‘other ballot questions’ in Ohio — because one of them happened to be an initiative to prevent the government from requiring individuals to purchase health insurance. Why raise the specter of Romneycare himself? Still, even with this clarification, folks still say Romney’s resistance yesterday reinforces his spineless image. Certainly, it didn’t do anything to dispel the popular notion of him as a flipper — but, given that Kasich’s law looks likely to be repealed, I’d say Romney’s support for it today suggests that, on this, at least, he has actual conviction.”

A couple of readers aren’t happy with my Serpentor-like plan to genetically engineer a Republican candidate with all of the field’s strengths and none of the candidates’ flaws. This candidate, Rick Rombachcaingrichsman, would enter the race as a heavy favorite to win Pennsylvania, Texas, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Georgia, Georgia again, Utah, and Beijing, just for starters.

Would you prefer I lied to you? Should we all close our eyes and pretend that Romneycare isn’t a problem for Mitt? That Perry’s debate performances have been strong and reassuring? That Herman Cain seems to have a deep and well-rounded expertise about a wide variety of issues?

Look, the vast majority of us will fall in line by the convention, I suspect. We don’t need to fall in love with a candidate — that’s what the other side did last time. None of these guys (or the gal) is running for Messiah or Munificent Sun-God. We’re looking for a guy who can undo a lot of bad decisions, cut government, reassure America’s businesses and entrepreneurial class that the federal government won’t be mucking around with regulations that increase energy and health-care costs, or increasing taxes, and that we are on the verge of enjoying a Harding-esque “return to normalcy” — an era before both Obamacare and bailouts, before government-run General Motors and random government employees commenting on what they find in your luggage.

It’s worth remembering that for all of his troubles, Romney’s still in a heck of a strong spot: “Mitt Romney is on the top or tied for the lead in the race for the Republican presidential nomination in new surveys in the first four states to vote in next year’s primary and caucus calendar. According to CNN/Time/ORC International polls released Wednesday, the former Massachusetts governor continues to be the overwhelming front-runner in New Hampshire, holds a lead over the other GOP presidential candidates in Florida, and is basically tied for the top spot with businessman Herman Cain in Iowa and South Carolina.”

Tags: John Kasich , Mitt Romney , Ohio

‘His whole campaign has centered around tapioca.’


In the midweek Morning Jolt . . .

Romney’s Bold, Groundbreaking Form of Hesitation

Oh, come on, Mitt. Come on.

Look, if you want to equivocate a bit, fine. If you want to say that you understand that Ohio’s public-sector employees probably feel surprised and stunned that their traditional way of operating is no longer tenable, and that they’ve been misled for decades by politicians of both parties who engaged in a conspiracy of complacency to suggest, year after year, that the status quo was fine and that constant increases in pensions and benefits could continue indefinitely, fine.

As Walter Russell Mead put it:

But if the Mama Bear New Democrats serve their porridge too cool, the Papa Bear Republicans like Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and Ohio’s John Kasich risk serving it too hot.

Polarizing politics and demonizing state and local government workers is not a good idea. It is unfair for one thing; it is bad politics for another. Toxic blue model legacy costs are the problem: rigidly bureaucratic government structures, unrealistic costs, years of underfunded pension plans, regulations that choke growth and initiative, outdated progressive ideas about how change works — these are the roots of our problems, not the middle school teacher down the street or the retired post office worker living modestly on a pension that may be underfunded but is hardly a bonanza.

The fifty year old teacher, fireman or police officer may have been naive to believe his or her union leaders, the politicians and the journalists who all said there was nothing to worry about — but most of those workers cannot be called “greedy” or “selfish”. They are victims of a complex, multi-player Ponzi scheme and have been lied to by a lot of people for a long time. They also face some serious financial costs. Not only are their pensions likely to be less generous and solid than they were led to expect; they may well face layoffs and wage freezes as states struggle to cope with legacy costs.

In other words, if you fear that Kasich’s reforms are going to go down hard this November (as some polling indicates), and you’re wary of associating yourself too closely with what you fear is a lost cause, you can always use the “noble ends, but possibly flawed means” two-step. It would irk some conservatives who fume at hesitation and equivocation, but at least you’re giving Kasich and Ohio Republicans credit for striving for the right goal, a less expensive, more efficient, streamlined state government.

But this, Governor Romney? This?

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney stepped into the middle of the charged battle over organized labor in Ohio on Tuesday, but he avoided weighing in on the contentious legislation that would dramatically limit the collective bargaining rights of public sector unions.

The former Massachusetts governor visited an Ohio Republican Party phone bank in the suburbs of Cincinnati, where GOP volunteers were contacting voters about two hot-button measures that will be on the Nov. 8 ballot. One of them, Issue 2, would ratify Senate Bill 5 — the controversial legislation backed by Republican Gov. John Kasich that curbs collective bargaining rights for public employees.

Another measure, Issue 3, would amend the state constitution to forbid the state and federal government from imposing a mandate to buy health insurance.

Romney expressed generic support for Kasich’s efforts to curtail union rights, but he would not say whether he supports or opposes the specific measures.

“I am not speaking about the particular ballot issues,” Romney said, only after repeated questions from reporters. “Those are up to the people of Ohio. But I certainly support the efforts of the governor to reign in the scale of government. I am not terribly familiar with the two ballot initiatives. But I am certainly supportive of the Republican Party’s efforts here.”

Erick Erickson: “Playing it too safe is finally biting Romney in the rear end. He’s refused to call Social Security a ponzi scheme. He’s refused to offer bold economic reform plans. He’s refused to address significant changes in entitlement reforms. His whole campaign has centered around tapioca. . . . Typically, when a politician stands for nothing except his own election, he winds up not getting elected.”

Bytor, at Third Base Politics, a blog that focuses heavily on Ohio politics, hears opportunity knocking: “This opens the door for one or more of Mitt Romney’s rivals. Candidates like Newt Gingrich or Rick Perry might want to think about packing their bags and heading straight to Ohio. Standing behind reasonable efforts to help struggling cities and schools control their costs could give their campaigns a much-needed shot in the arm with the conservative voters that vote in primaries.”

Tags: Mitt Romney , Ohio

Ohio Redistricting Ensures Messy Democrat Primaries Next Year


Over in Ohio, the redistricting plan is moving forward. The state is set to lose two congressional seats, and their state delegation will probably include one and perhaps two fewer Democrats in January 2013. The state now includes 13 Republicans and five Democrats.

Steve Chabot and Jim Renacci, elected in 2010, will enjoy more heavily-Republican districts, as will Steve Latourette. A heavily-Democratic seat is being created in the center of Columbus, but Steve Stivers and Pat Tiberi will enjoy more heavily-Republican and more suburban districts.

As for the Democrats, they face two significant challenges from the new lines. The first big headache for Democrats:

Republican and Democratic sources say that in Northeast Ohio, the plan will shift Copley Township Democrat Betty Sutton into a largely Republican district that’s being constructed to favor the re-election of freshman GOP Rep. Jim Renacci of Wadsworth.

As the Cleveland Plain-Dealer notes:

The western Cuyahoga County power base of Cleveland Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich will become part of a district that snakes along Lake Erie from Toledo and is designed to favor the re-election of longtime Toledo Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur.

Primaries after redistricting are like Thunderdome: Two incumbents enter, one incumbent leaves.

Tags: Dennis Kucinich , House Republicans , Marcy Kaptur , Ohio

Ohio Republicans Like Their Turnout Figures


A plugged-in, diehard Republican in Ohio: “My county chairman told me that by midday 35 percent of the Republicans had voted, only 15-16 percent of Democrats; and the University of Dayton, which had turned out 80-90 percent in 2008, was only at 12 percent at midday. And in our district, our strongest period is after 5 p.m.. Gonna be a looooong night for the Dems here.”

Tags: Ohio


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