There's no shortage of political tumult in the Buckeye State this year, where the Democratic-held governorship and at least six Democratic-held House seats are in jeopardy. But what makes it particularly notable is that the state represents several key demographic groups whose changing perspectives will give serious insight into President Obama's broader political standing for 2012.Out of curiosity, can one person tell me what Ted Stickland has done to bring jobs to the Ohio economy?
The voters Obama is losing -- white-collar managers in Columbus, blue-collar union workers in Youngstown, pro-life independents around Cincinnati -- are exactly the types he needs to win re-election in 2012, and they're backing away from his party in droves. Obama tallied a whopping 60 percent disapproval rating in Quinnipiac's latest Ohio poll, with nearly two-thirds of voters disapproving of his economic performance.
That dissatisfaction extends across the board to Democrats on the statewide ballot. The Quinnipiac poll showed Gov. Ted Strickland down 17 points to Republican John Kasich and Republican Rob Portman leading Democratic Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher by 20 points in the Senate race. A separate CNN/Time poll was striking in that the two statewide Democrats were badly underperforming in nearly every part of the state, among almost every key demographic.
Working-class Democrats are abandoning the party to support Republicans with both Wall Street and Washington ties. The business-friendly base around Columbus, which swung towards Obama in 2008, now gives both Portman and Kasich substantial leads. A sizable share (42 percent) of Kasich backers in the Quinnipiac poll said they were casting their vote specifically against Strickland, who was once one of the most popular chief executives in the country.
The gloomy numbers for Ohio Democrats are all the more telling, given that the two Republicans on the statewide ballot are near-perfect punching bags for the White House's signature message -- that Republicans are beholden to the wealthiest few, Wall Street and big business. Kasich worked for Lehman Brothers as an investment banker during his time in the political wilderness, before the company went bankrupt. Portman stood side-by-side with former President Bush heading the Office of Management and Budget, and is an advocate for free-market and free-trade principles that are often received warily by the Buckeye State's blue-collar electorate.
Yet they're both leading by eye-popping margins, and Democrats are already privately discussing the possibility of moving money out of Ohio into other, more winnable, states. In a sign that the populist attacks focused on Kasich's past haven't had much of an impact, Strickland abandoned his own Wall Street attacks on Kasich in favor of a more positive message touting his economic record in Ohio -- a tough sell in a state with a 10.1 percent unemployment rate, ninth-highest in the country.
I'm just asking for one. The only thing of note I can remember is the introduction of Keno to the Ohio lottery, a true success story.