Analyzing the 2010 Midterm Elections – the Ohio Gubernatorial Election

This is a part of a series of posts analyzing the 2010 midterm elections. This post will analyze the Ohio gubernatorial election, in which Republican John Kasich narrowly defeated Democrat Ted Strickland.

(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

Ohio’s Gubernatorial Election

In most of the 2010 midterm elections, Democratic performances were strikingly similar to President Barack Obama’s performance in 2008. If a place had generally voted Democratic in the past, but didn’t vote for Mr. Obama – it tended not to vote Democratic in 2010 either. An example of this is southwest Pennsylvania. The same holds true for places that generally voted Republican in the past but went for Mr. Obama this time (e.g. the Houston and Salt Lake City metropolitan areas.)

Ohio’s gubernatorial election was an exception to this trend. Democratic former Governor Ted Strickland built a very traditional Democratic coalition in Ohio:

(A note: Credit for the first three maps in this post goes to the New York Times.)

This map is strikingly similar to previous Democratic performances in Ohio, and less similar to Mr. Obama’s. Mr. Obama did unusually well in Columbus and Cincinnati and unusually badly in the Ohio’s northeast unionized industrial corridor. Mr. Strickland depended less on Columbus and Cincinnati and more on the northeast.

Ohio’s 2010 gubernatorial election looks very similar to previous elections. Here, for instance, is President George W. Bush in 2004:

Even more similarly, we can look at President Bill Clinton’s victory in 1996. Of course, Mr. Clinton won Ohio by a decent margin while Mr. Strickland lost. But if you simply imagine the Republican margins widening and the Democratic margins decreasing, you get something very similar to Mr. Strickland’s map:

One can go further back – to the 1976 presidential election or even the 1940 presidential election – and get similar results. (Note that in the link for the 1976 presidential election, blue indicates Republican victories while red indicates Democratic victories; this is the opposite of the norm.)

Republican Governor John Kasich thus won a victory based off electoral patterns more than three generations old.

Two Unusual Patterns

Let’s compare Mr. Kasich’s performance with Senator John McCain’s performance:

This is a very unusual map. When most Republicans win, Republican strongholds shift more to the Republican candidate, while Democratic strongholds shift less.

This did not happen with Mr. Kasich. Rather, Mr. Kasich seems to have improved the most in the more populated areas of Ohio (Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland). He actually does worse than Mr. McCain in a number of Republican counties.

Notice also how Mr. Strickland improves upon Mr. Obama along the southeastern border of Ohio. This is not an accident; Mr. Strickland’s area of improvement directly traces the old congressional district he represented before becoming governor.

Here is a map of Ohio’s congressional districts. Mr. Strickland represented the 6th congressional district in the map:

There is one final interesting note about the 2010 Ohio gubernatorial election. Republican candidate John Kasich lost much of Appalachian southeastern Ohio. This is a rare occurrence; that part of Ohio is economically liberal but socially conservative and quite poor. It usually votes Republican but will occasionally go for a Democratic candidate.

Generally, this only happens when the Republican candidate is losing. That Mr. Kasich lost southeastern Ohio but still won the state is a rare thing.

The Democratic Party is in trouble in this part of America; it has gone from Clinton country to one of the few areas where Barack Obama did worse than John Kerry. The Democratic officeholders in this region are gradually being swept out of office.

Yet Mr. Strickland was able to win soundly in Appalachian Ohio, despite losing the state during the strongest Republican wave in a generation. That is quite a unique accomplishment. It offers a ray of hope to Democrats in Appalachian America.




OH-Gov, OH-Sen: Democrats lead recent polls

A few months ago, Democrats were facing uphill battles in the Ohio races for governor and U.S. Senate. However, recent polls have been more encouraging. A new Quinnipac poll shows Governor Ted Strickland leading Republican John Kasich by 44 percent to 38 percent and both Democratic candidates, Lee Fisher and Jennifer Brunner, narrowly ahead of Republican Rob Portman in the U.S. Senate races, 40-37 and 40-36. Quinnipac was polling registered voters in Ohio, and polls that sample likely voters tend to produce better numbers for Republicans, but as you can see from the chart, several pollsters have found Strickland in a stronger position compared to a few months ago:

Here is the chart of Senate polls testing Portman against Fisher, who will probably win the Democratic primary next Tuesday.

It's not a big lead, but I'll take it in a state where unemployment is above the national average at 11 percent. Money will be a big problem for the Democratic nominee against Portman, who had $7.7 million cash on hand according to his latest FEC filing. Fisher had only about $907,000 on hand, and Brunner had just $59,000.

Share any thoughts about this year's Ohio elections in this thread.

DNCC: Ted Strickland

We are now in prime time (10-11p EDT.) Gov. Ted Strickland got some good shots in at John McCain. "He was born on third base and stole second." The place loved that. Toward the end of the speech he brought that line back by saying "we have to make sure everyone has a chance at bat."

For the change we need, it's time for Barack Obama!

There's more...

Vice Presidential Profile: Ted Strickland (Gov-OH)

This is the second in our week long series profiling the most likely vice presidential candidates.  Yesterday we looked at Virginia Senator Jim Webb; tomorrow (Wednesday, May 21st) we will be profiling Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius.

A man bound to be on the short list for Obama's vice president is Ohio governor Ted Strickland.  Not only is Strickland the governor of one of the most important swing states, but Ohio is also a state whose demographics don't immediately favor Obama.  Certainly Sen. Obama will pick up the lion's share of Clinton supporters in the state, but he's going to have to fight tooth and nail for conservative Democrats and independents against the so-called maverick, John McCain.

There's more...

OH-05: Gov. Strickland: "This Race Is Absolutely Winnable"

Good to see the DCCC isn't waiting until next year to start going on offense in order to expand our majorities. Remarkably, in the OH-05 open seat race set for December 11, a district that Bush won with 61% in 2004, Democrats smell blood.

Swing State Project reports that the DCCC has purchased a $148,000 ad buy to support Democrat Robin Weirauch who won 43% last year in this R+10 district. This comes on the heels of Weirauch's reportedly raising $138,000 so far for this special election alone, including

$5,000 from Emily's List and $2,000 each from committees affiliated with Rep. Rahm Emmanual (D-IL), Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo), Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Niles), and Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Cleveland). She also recived funds from various Congressional leadership PACS, including $5,000 from Rep. Kaptur's PAC. Weirauch also got over $34,000 from union PACs.

While a poll that Weirauch's Republican opponent, Bob Latta, commissioned 3 weeks ago showed Latta ahead 50%-37%, the same poll showed a generic R beating a generic D by just 8%, indicating that voters are perhaps even more willing to vote Democratic this year than they were last when Weirauch lost by 14%. And in a glimpse into what may be driving the surge in institutional support for Weirauch in the closing days of the race, Governor Ted Strickland let us in on a little secret about Weirauch's internal polling at an appearance with her on Saturday (h/t Ohio Daily Blog):

Robin's pollster is the pollster that I have used since 1992. She's the best there is, I trust her explicitly. She does not sugarcoat the results and her results say that this race is absolutely winnable.

In this district that both Strickland and Sherrod Brown carried last year, Weirauch is sounding populist themes, promoting fair trade over trade deals that have sent jobs out of the district, demanding up front in her speech on Saturday that we "bring our troops home safe, honorably and soon" and has been vocal in her support of the Employee Free Choice Act. In other words, it's clear that on Dec. 11, even in this red district, we have the chance to add not only one more Democrat, but a better one to congress.

Help send Washington a new "Congresswoman by Christmas" by showing Weirauch some love over at ActBlue.

There's more...


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