Vice Presidential Profile: Ted Strickland (Gov-OH)
by Big Blue, Wed May 21, 2008 at 01:37:14 AM EDT
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.
Here are the key figures to bear in mind when considering Gov. Strickland (from an April, 2008 SUSA poll): he swept into the governor's mansion in a landslide, besting his opponent Ken Blackwell by better than 20 points (60-37). He holds an approval rating of 54% with only 39% disapproval. He's strongest among whites (57% approval) and Hispanics (62% approval), two demographics in which Obama struggles for support. He's supported by majorities of both pro-life and pro-choice voters (53% and 56% approval respectively), as well as majorities of pro-gun and anti-gun voters (53% and 56% respectively). On the issues, Gov. Strickland receives his strongest approval ratings from voters who hold Iraq, health care, and the economy as their top issues. Strickland also holds a very high rating among political moderates (61%), while splitting conservative voters. These numbers indicate that Strickland is capable of re-enforcing Obama's promise to bridge the divide, as well as demonstrating his appeal to both the types of voters already supporting Obama, as well as those who have shied away from his candidacy so far, and are at risk of being lost to McCain.
Most importantly, Strickland served as representative to the U.S. House from Ohio's 6th district for six terms. Ohio's 6th district is located along the eastern border of Ohio. Obama's support has been especially weak along the Appalachian mountains, and Strickland could help him gain more voters there. Unsurprisingly, Strickland's best numbers come from this region of the state where he has a 63% approval rating.
Strickland is sometimes viewed wrongly as a conservative Democrat, but his voting record would be more aptly described as left leaning-populist. While in the House, he voted against legislation to ban stem cell research, voted against the amendment to make gay marriage illegal, voted against CAFTA, and voted against making the Bush tax cuts permanent. He also supported the effort to formalize net neutrality, which is of particular importance to bloggers such as myself. Especially important when considering Gov. Strickland is the fact that he was one of the few Democrats to vote against authorizing the use of force against Iraq. I believe it is essential for Obama to choose a running mate who opposed the war from the beginning, lest he undercut his case for possessing better judgment.
The main obstacle to Strickland's nomination is the fact that he endorsed Clinton during the primary season; however, he never used the incendiary rhetoric some Clinton supporters did, so this may not be a problem. Secondly, a Strickland nomination would send the signal that Obama is not serious about his "map changing" candidacy and is betting on the same swing state strategy that have served Democrats poorly the last few cycles. Strickland may also have to cope with the scandal surrounding his attorney general, Marc Dann, who resigned just five days ago under charges of sexual harrassment. Strickland's innoculation to this is the fact that he openly called on Dann to resign. It'd be a stretch for the GOP to try and tie Strickland to Dann, but that doesn't mean they won't try. One final concern is Strickland's age. He'll be 67 in November, which pretty well guarantees he won't ever be able to run for president himself. That's eight years of limelight that might be better spent on a younger candidate.
But for those few weaknesses, Gov. Strickland looks like a very strong contender for the vice presidency.
More commentary available at The Left Anchor