Analyzing Swing States: Ohio, Part 1

By: Inoljt,

This is the first part of an analysis of the swing state Ohio. The second part can be found here.

Is Ohio a liberal place? Or is it a conservative place?

I suspect far more people would say the latter rather than the former.

In many respects, Ohio is politically similar to Florida. Both are well-known swing states that hold a bountiful electoral prize. Both lean Republican. Both have large cites that function as pools of Democratic votes. Both also have considerable rural, Republican regions.

But in other ways they could not be more different. Sunny Florida is diverse, growing, and service-oriented. While Florida often votes Republican, it is not exactly conservative. Cold, northern Ohio is a rust-belt giant. It is not very diverse. It is definitely not growing. Florida is new. Ohio is old and conservative.

For the moment Ohio is a bit more conservative than the country at large. For the past eight out of nine presidential elections, it has been a bit redder than the nation. Not much redder, but enough to be noticeable.


I do not think that the future looks bright for the Democratic Party in Ohio. The two are moving in opposite directions. Demographically, Ohio is staying static while the country at large changes. And there are not many truly liberal spots in Ohio - places like Boulder, CO or Seattle. There never were.

Ohio has a lot of unionized, working-class folk who are still voting against Herbert Hoover; they are a core part of its Democratic base. I am not sure how long they will continue to support a party that is becoming, quite frankly, fairly upper-class in ethos. People in West Virginia certainly don't anymore.

Not that Ohio is doomed to become a Republican stronghold. Places like Columbus are rapidly turning blue, perhaps fast enough to offset losses in working-class counties. And it isn't inevitable that those counties will start voting Republican. If West Virginia is a prime example of working-class voters who deserted the Democratic Party, Michigan is a prime example of working-class voters that still support it. Barack Obama won a landslide in that state.

Nevertheless, my gut still tells me that Ohio and the Democratic Party are shifting farther and farther away from each other. These things can reveal themselves very quickly in politics. In 1988, California was a red state that had voted Republican for six elections in a row. Then one day it was won by Bill Clinton - and it has never gone back since then. In 1996 West Virginia had gone blue for five out of the past six elections. Then George Bush won the state - and now we consider it a rock-hard Republican state.

That may be the fate of Ohio.

There's more...

Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio

Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania. Some of the most hotly contested, heavily analyzed swing states in the nation. In the next few days I will be going over the political composition of these states - where the Democrats and Republicans have their voting base. I will also look at "swing" regions inside these states, which may support either the Democratic or Republican candidate.

While the media and popular opinion labels Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania as "swing states," all three swing in one consistent direction more often than not. Florida and Ohio swing right: when the country turns red, they tend to be a bit more red and when the country turns blue, they tend to be a bit less blue. Pennsylvania swings in the opposite direction; it is always more Democratic than the nation at large. These political leanings have held true for election after election (including the most recent one), no matter who the candidates are or what their campaigns do. They have immense political significance.

Part 1 of Florida can be found here


There's more...

Former Bushie Portman Trailing Bad in OH-Sen

If the Republicans are poised for major gains in 2010, shouldn't one of their top Senate recruits in the country be leading, or at least tied, rather than trailing badly in an open seat race they're defending?

Quinnipiac survey of 1,074 Ohio voters, September 10-13, margin of error +/- 3.0%

  • Democrat Lee Fisher 42, Republican Rob Portman 31
  • Democrat Jennifer Brunner 39, Republican Rob Portman 34

Rob Portman is the man the Republicans wanted to run for this seat. He's a former Congressman representing a more competitive portion of Ohio, and he has a huge campaign warchest of close to $5 million more than $4 million (buoyed by money left over from his days in Congress). He also is closely tied into the Republican establishment, having served in not one but two high-ranking positions within the Bush administration. Yet he's trailing by a double-digit margin in a state carried by the GOP twice out of the past three presidential elections in a race opened up by the retirement of a Republican Senator? Please, someone again explain to me how this is shaping up to be a great cycle for the Republicans.

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MyDD Interview with Lee Fisher

Last Wednesday I had the opportunity to speak with Ohio's Democratic Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher, a candidate for his party's Senatorial nomination for the open seat race in 2010.

Fisher and I covered a number of issues, with the candidate expressing his support for the public option (and unwillingness, as of that point, to support any bill that did not include a public option), the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor, and the Employee Free Choice Act. Fisher also stated that he counts himself among the vast majority of Americans who understand and know that Barack Obama was born in the United States of America. Here is the rush transcript of our conversation:

Jonathan Singer: What do you as the path to victory in a general election, you versus the friend of George Bush? Maybe that is the path...

Lee Fisher: Well, that is part of the path. I think the path to victory is a number of things. Number one, speaking directly to what people care most about, and that is turning around the economy; creating jobs, saving jobs, attracting jobs; and making sure that people understand that their next Senator cares about them in terms of putting food on the table, paying their bills, making sure the rules are fair, and that they're going to have an opportunity, not only for themselves but for their kids. To me, that's what it's all about. It's all about stabilizing the economy, and then making sure that Ohio actually prospers in a way that every family gets an opportunity to achieve their dreams. And that's number one.

The second is to show the contrast between Lee Fisher and Rob Portman. And the fact that Rob Portman and George Bush brought us eight years of disastrous trade policies and economic policies that got us into the deepest economic ditch in most of our lifetimes, and that the worst possible thing we could do would be to move backwards and go back to the same people and the same policies that got us into this mess. And there is no candidate in America today running for office on the Republican side who is more closely tied to George Bush, because Portman was one of the chief architects of Bush's trade and economic policies. So some Republicans might be able to run away from Bush. Rob Portman cannot.

There's more...

OH-Sen: Rob Portman = George W. Bush

It is said that the 2008 Presidential election between Barack Obama and John McCain was as much a referendum on George W. Bush's administration, policies, and failures as it was a referendum on either of the major Party nominees.  In 2010, for most midterm races, George W. Bush will be a distant memory.  However, the race in which George W. Bush and the harmful effects of his agenda will be most front-and-center will be the U.S. Senate race in Ohio.

The Republican nominee is expected to be Rob Portman, who spent twelve years representing Ohio's 2nd Congressional district, in the Cincinnati suburbs.  More important on his resume, though, are his two roles in George W. Bush's administration: U.S. Trade Representative and Director of the Office of Management and Budget.  In short, Portman was George W. Bush's trade chief and budget boss; and, perhaps no state has been hurt more by Bush's trade and budget policies than Ohio.  In Bush's final year in office, only a small minority of Ohioans (just 26%) approved of Bush's handling of the economy.  Rob Portman was one of the chief architects of the Bush economy of which Ohioans so overwhelmingly disapproved, and Ohio voters will have the opportunity to thank Portman for his role.

In January, I offered a thorough look at Portman's close relationship to George W. Bush.  From Portman's leadership on CAFTA (which so many Ohio labor unions opposed) to Portman's support for Bush's plan to privatize social security to Portman's intimate role in Bush's 2000 and 2004 campaigns, George W. Bush had fewer sidekicks more loyal than Rob Portman.

I'm glad to see that the Ohio Democratic Party and the DSCC are making the centerpiece of their opposition Portman's close ties to George W. Bush and Portman's role in perpetuating the Bush economy that was so destructive to so many Ohio families.

At, the Ohio Democratic Party has put up a website highlighting Portman's leadership role on Bush's failed economic policies.  They do a strong job, both textually and visually, of pointing out that Portman is a Bush Republican, and that Bush's policies very much are Portman's policies.

Rob Portman = George W. Bush

Portman is doing himself no favors in the messaging department when he labels himself the consummate Washington D.C. insider:

In a political world where candidates are falling all over themselves to tout their "outsider" credentials, Rob Portman is a rare exception to the rule.

Portman, a former Congressman and Bush Administration official, is casting himself as a deal-making insider in his campaign for the seat being vacated by Sen. George Voinovich (R) in 2010 -- portraying his resume as just the sort of thing that will help him get things done in Washington.

"I know enough now about where the bodies are buried [and] how the Senate works that I know I can be effective there for Ohio," Portman said during a recent interview with the Fix as part of our "Rising" series.

The DSCC has made Portman's comments and Portman's role as a key George W. Bush sidekick the focal point of a terrific web video, at right.

To ensure that George W. Bush and the harm that his economic policies caused Ohio do not become memories too distant to Ohioans, I'll repeat a suggestion I made back in January:

Can I suggest that, before George W. Bush becomes too distant a memory, the Ohio Democratic Party should print up some simple "Rob Portman = George W. Bush" bumper stickers and circulate them.  Cement that message early.

And why stop at bumper stickers?  The Ohio Democratic Party or Ohio labor unions should buy some highly visible billboard space and put up the message "Rob Portman: Architect of George W. Bush's Economy" now that the according website is running.

Whether or not George W. Bush is still in office, Rob Portman is very much a George W. Bush Republican, and Bush should serve as an anchor to Portman throughout the campaign if Democrats continue to effectively highlight the extremely close Bush-Portman relationship.

For daily news and updates on the U.S. Senate races around the country, regularly read Senate Guru.

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