Thursday, August 04, 2005

Portsmouth Daily Times: What happens when rookies try to act as politicals sages

In case the link expires before you have a chance to read this post, here's the editorial at issue in today's Portsmouth Daily Times, a daily newspaper in the Second Congressional District:

Race has little impact
PDT Editorial Staff
The Issue: Schmidt’s victory in 2nd District race
Our View: Race not necessarily barometer for mid-term

Republican Jean Schmidt’s victory over Democrat Paul Hackett in Tuesday’s election for Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District seat is sure to be dissected and overanalyzed.

Republicans will claim Schmidt’s victory is a clear indication that the values of people in Ohio more closely reflect those of the Republican Party. Democrats will claim Hackett’s near upset in the traditionally strong Republican district is an indication of a desire for change.


There is no question Hackett benefited from an investment scandal that has reached the governor’s office and has consumed the Republicans. Likewise, Schmidt clearly won the race because registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats by about a 3-to-1 margin in the 2nd District.

So what does all that mean when it comes to next year’s mid-term elections? Not much.

The Schmidt-Hackett race was overbilled as an indicator for what may lay ahead. It was really just a race with its own dynamic and all the mid-term elections will have their own dynamics.

Although there may be some shift in attitudes about Ohio’s Republican Party, it comes about because of the widely publicized scandal and state’s dismal financial condition. It does not have anything to do with Jean Schmidt or Paul Hackett.

It cannot be determined with any certainty that Hackett voters gave him the nod because of those factors. They may have simply believed he was a stronger candidate.

What the race did indicate is that Democrats are going to take full advantage of the Republicans’ vulnerability and may not utter a single sentence during the campaigns without the words “investment scandal.” Gov. Taft is clearly a political liability and the Republicans will struggle to offset the scandal’s impact.

And that was going to be the case regardless of who won in the 2nd District.

Apparently, the fine editorial staff doesn't know what it means when a race is called a barometer for future elections. In case any of them read this, a barometer race is one whre the result shows a public attitude to larger issues and perceptions beyond the candidates themselves. So a result which shows a shifting attitude about the Republican party because of the financial scandals in the state IS, by definition, a barometer race.

Editorial writers should know that when you write, you should express an opinion, not multiple, contradictory ones. Right after saying the race had nothing to do with the candidates, then the Times apologists attempt to say the race actually had more to do with the dynamic of the candidates themselves.

Sadly for the Times, their opinion is not the view taken from significant segments of the Republican Party. Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich said, "Clearly, there's a pretty strong signal for Republicans thinking about 2006 that they need to do some very serious planning and not just assume that everything is going to be automatically OK."

But maybe that's just the out-of-touch, long distance view of national Republicans. Perhaps, the Times has the view of the Ohio Republican Party in mind.

"To the extent that voters in that district were sending a message to the Republican Party at the state or national level, we have heard that message and we will continue to listen to their concerns," said Ohio Republican Party Political Director Jason Mauk.

Since every GOP statewide candidate is currently and unescapably tied to the Taft Administration, the special election was indeed a warning bell. After all, these same Republicans used special elections in 1993 to claim a forecast of a brewing political storm in 1994. They were right, then, yes?

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