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Sunday | September 01, 2002

Surprise! Ohio governor's race in play

An independent poll by the Columbus Post Dispatch confirms the GOP's worst fears -- even safe governor seats, held by popular incumbents, are in danger from the rising Democratic tide.

GOP Gov. Taft has money, he has a "storied" name, he governs in a fairly Republican state, and he faces a candidate with next to zero dollars. Yet, he leads only 47-39 percent. The question thus becomes, can the state Democratic Party's superior GOTV (get out the vote) efforts overcome Taft's 20-fold lead in campaign cash? It already appears as though Dem candidate Hagan won't even be able to air any ads:

GOP statewide and legislative candidates have huge campaign-money advantages over Democratic opponents; Taft has at least 20 times as much campaign cash as Hagan. In a state where millions of dollars are needed for TV ads to reach 7 million voters in eight media markets, Hagan could become the second Democratic candidate in the past three gubernatorial elections to air no television spots.
On the other hand, Ohio's finances are in shambles, and the electorate seems to be in a "anyone but Taft" mood.
"It's not going to be the dull, easy walk that a lot of people think it might be,'' said Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican.

"This is the worst political environment Republicans have faced in 20 years,'' lamented Brett Buerck, chief of staff for majority Ohio House Republicans.

Melting 401(k)s, corporate scandal and greed, baby boomers' angst about Social Security, years of impending federal deficits, dissension over the wisdom of attacking Iraq -- these national issues are conspiring against Republicans as polls show a majority of Americans fearing the nation is on the wrong track.

Ultimately, the race will probably hinge on which party has the best GOTV efforts:
Both parties -- for different reasons -- are worried about their supporters turning out for the election. Democrats are concerned that an absence of TV advertising, particularly in the governor's race, could dampen enthusiasm among the faithful. Republicans fear that the poor economy and corporate scandals will depress the turnout of their voters.


For all the state party's weaknesses, Democrats were surprisingly adept in the 2000 presidential election's grass-roots "ground game,'' said John Green, political-science professor at the University of Akron, nudging Al Gore within 3.6 percentage points of a victory.

What's amazing about that 3.6 percent figure is that Gore's campaign wrote off Ohio early in the campaign season, figuring it was completely out of reach. Yet he came close to winning the state without having spent any money or time in the state (one of his campaign's costlier miscalculations). If that GOTV effort turns out for Democratic candidates, Ohio may provide one of the biggest surprises this coming election.

(Story courtesy of the MyDD message boards.)

Posted September 01, 2002 03:09 PM | Comments (9)


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