Friday, May 19, 2006

Strickland's numbers rising, while Blackwell is stuck in neutral

From Rasmussen Reports:

Election 2006-Ohio Governor
Three-Poll Rolling Average










"The candidates began the year much closer than they are today with Strickland leading just 44% to 40% in our January survey. Since then, his lead has been in double digits every month. Our last three surveys found the Democrat at 50% or above each time."

The convention wisdom has been that Strickland has been ahead of Blackwell in the polls because of the brutal primary with Jim Petro. However, six months of polling shows Blackwell's support stuck in the mid-30s while Strickland's support has jumped seven points over that period. Blackwell's numbers wouldn't have much of a bruising back in November when most were still thinking about OSU football than a primary election half a year away.

But this is just the rolling averages of these months, if you look to some of the month-to-month totals, Strickland's rise in the polls is all the more impressive. In the January poll, Rasmussen showed Strickland-Blackwell at 44-40. That means Blackwell has remained statisically flat while Strickland has seen an eight-point raise.

This is largely due to Strickland's improving of his name recognition over this time. As more voters have gotten to know who Ted Strickland is, the more they have supported him. And that's bad news for Ken Blackwell. After twelve years in state office, there isn't much improvement he can make in his name recognition, and it only gives him more than a third of the vote.

This poll was commissioned the day after the primary, so if Blackwell has gotten any lift from any possible mending within the Republican base it couldn't show in this poll. Conversely, if Blackwell has suffered any backlash from his sudden post-primary reversals on TEL and CAT we don't know that either. Additionally, with a 79% victory, Strickland doesn't have much of a "fence mending" bounce. But as independants start to pay attention to the race (and given the national trend of independents breaking towards Democrats this cycle), Strickland's numbers have a greater likelihood than not of improving.

In the end, the convention wisdom is right about one thing. In order to win, Blackwell is going to have to make a convincing "anti-Strickland" case rather than a "pro-Blackwell" message.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Conservative swoon over Republican standard bearer's amazing ability to have Republican legislature pass his conservative legislation

It wouldn't be so funny if it wasn't so true. In equally shocking (but in no way analogous) news, OSU football fans says that Scarlet's victory over the Grey team in the OSU Spring Game shows how much Jim Tressel is an amazing leader. This is the spin being raised to declare that after nearly a year promoting TEL, the constitutional amendment to place stringent caps on state and local government spending by tying it to inflation and population changes, Ken Blackwell's sudden abandonment of the amendment in favor of a legislative proposal, which only limits state government's spending, is a testament to his glorious leadership.

Surely, this isn't a flip-flop, the swooning conservatives say because Ken Blackwell himself says: "I am not going to stand before you and try and re-create myself for the general [election]. I am who I am and I am who you get."

Sure, the new proposal is a repealable and freely amendable statute, unlike a moreingrainedd constitutional amendment, but that's not a flip-flop. After all, in recent days, Blackwell had publicly said he would consider abandoning TEL if "a better proposal came along." And this is clearly a better proposal. Right? Right?!?

Well, it's hard to tell since the legislative proposal that's better than TEL hadn't even been written by the time Blackwell already endorsed it.

We do know that Blackwell is supporting a legislative proposal that completely abandons Blackwell's promise to constrain local spending. But, the swooning conservative says as he basks in the pseudo-Reaganesque glow of Blackwell, that's not a flip-flop. As the editor of the conservative blog, Right Angle Blog, stated:
"In all fairness, until the TEL was brought up Ken Blackwell always talked about state government spending, he never really mentioned the local spending."

And that's true. Well, except, of course, for the times when Blackwell really did mention local spending:

"State and local government in this state have been spending money like drunken sailors," Blackwell told Dayton's WHIOTV in April.

But, the nervous conservatives say:

We don't care whether the principles of TEL are enacted in a constitutional amendment or statute, what matters is that this legislation achieves the restraints on state government spending that we wanted.

Except the watered-down legislative proposal doesn't restrain all state government spending, either:

"But unlike Blackwell's amendment, which would limit the annual growth of government spending at the state and local levels, the new law would apply to only state general-revenue funds and not spending from other sources such as fees." From The Columbus Dispatch.

But, hey, at least a gap on limiting growth of the state's general revenue fund will achieve the conservative's goal of limited government creating sustainable economic growth, right? Right?!?

"A statute referring only to state (general-revenue funding) is only addressing part of the problem and not even the worst part of the problem," David Hansen, president of the conservative Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions, said. (emphasis added).

But isn't it unfair criticize a candidate for changing his position on an issue, even if it's the centerpiece of his campaign. One issue alone doesn't make a person unprincipledled waffler, does it?

During the primary campaign, this is what primary election candidate Ken Blackwell said about Ohio's new Commercial Activity Tax (CAT):

"What would make someone create a new tax on commercial activity when we need more commercial activity?" he asked during a rally at Lima's Veterans Memorial Civic Center. "That CAT must go.""

Now, general election candidate Ken Blackwell says that he's ok with CAT.

So, in the end, what do we know?

"I can hold a position on an issue longer than six months without getting exhausted."- Ken Blackwell.

We know that CAT and TEL must have been at least seven months old.

"I think the Republicans got Blackwell out of a big mess."- William C. Binning, chairman of the political-science department at Youngstown State University and former Mahoning County Republican Party chairman.

Maybe, sir. But don't betray your conservative leaders, by calling this something it's not. It's not a retreat. It's a bold, visionary reverse strategic deployment.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The issue Ken Blackwell hopes we don't talk about

Much speculation has been made as to whether Secretary of State Ken Blackwell may get a 3 to 4 percent boost in the general election by attracting larger amounts of African-American voters than what GOP candidates typically get (that's how much Blackwell would gain in the general by getting over 40% of the African-American vote in Ohio versus the 12% GOP candidates typically get.) Blackwell's strategy is to create a coalition between social and fiscal conservatives within the GOP with African-American voters who tend to be more socially conservative than white Democratic voters. And so long as Blackwell can stick to gay marriage and abortion, they'll be few problems in his coalition.

However, there's one issue that if it gets any attention could disrupt and destroy this harmonious coalition. One issue that if any attention is given to it could leave both potential white and African-American voters reconsidering their support for Blackwell. So far, this issue hasn't registered so much as a blip in voter's minds. As long as that doesn't change, Blackwell is fine.

That issue? Affirmative action.

For Blackwell's white conservative supporters, Blackwell's support for affirmative action would be considered heresy. To them, affirmative action is part of a litmus test. It's part of what defines a person to be conservative, it's not an issue where you can be a conservative with this notable exception. And Ken Blackwell has not left himself much room to try and wiggle out of his past support, either. Blackwell opposed enacting a state law that would forbid the use of race as a factor in state government contracting, employment, and admission to Ohio universities.

However, his record in supporting affirmative action isn't going to excite supporters of affirmative action, either. The last time affirmative action was seriously in the American's political dialogue was during the U.S. Supreme Court's consideration of the Michigan affirmative action cases, Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger in 2003. Although the White House could have avoided the issue altogether, President Bush ordered that the federal government submit briefs in both cases opposing the University of Michigan's use of race as an admission factor. And instead of respectfully disagreeing with the President's anti-affirmative action views as he did with Steve Forbes, Ken Blackwell sided with, and publicly defended, the President's position.

During the President's announcement of the federal government's opposition to the University of Michigan's affirmative action program, President Bush said:
"At the law school, some minority students are admitted to meet percentage targets while other applicants with higher grades and better scores are passed over. This means that students are being selected or rejected based primarily on the color of their skin. The motivation for such an admissions policy may be very good, but its result is discrimination and that discrimination is wrong."
A few days later, Ken Blackwell applauded the President's stance.
"He was silent on whether it was a compelling national interest to advance diversity, and I think his silence means on that matter the status quo is sufficient."
Months later, the United States Supreme Court gave its voice to replace the President's silence. In a 5-4 decision in Grutter, the Court reiterated that advancing diversity is a compelling national interest.

Therefore, during this campaign, as both candidates talk about jobs, it'll be interesting to see what Ken Blackwell specifically says about changing the course in this state for how minority-owned businesses have done in Ohio, and how he'll try to chart a course to keep both his conservative and African-American brethren on board.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Cordray's impressive fundraising led to GOP incumbent's defeat

This.... is..... fascinating...... Talk about tactical errors.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, Ohio GOP chair Bob Bennett encouraged the Bradley campaign three weeks before the primary to conserve financial resources for the general election against Richard Cordray who had over $1M on hand to Bradley's $400k in the last campaign finance report filed weeks before the primary.

So instead of have a moderate incumbent GOP candidate who had roughly $300k on hand, the GOP nominated a Blackwell firebrand with little name recognition and less than $2k on hand.

As the guys from Guiness would say, "BRILLIANT!"

Now not only do the Democrats have a strong, moderate candidate with the financial resources to compete, but he's facing a candidate who thinks it's more important to talk about abortion and gay marriage than what she'll do as State Treasurer and will be a financial drain on the ORP to help catch up to Cordray's financial advantage.

This race is now likely Democratic.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The longest hour in a man's life

How fast did today fly by for you? What about the last hour? Think about one hour out of your day and what you were able to do during that time.

Now, imagine spending that time strapped to a table while the State tried, rather ineffectively, to find a vein in your arm to inject the combinations of drugs to be used to kill you.

Imagine sitting there remembering the long drive to Lucasville, Ohio the day before to prepare you for the execution. The solemn walk into the death chamber. They strap you down, you see the IVs. You feel the needle, and you're finally ready for the reality of the moment, and then nothing. And then you feel it again.


And then again.

For an hour.

If you don't know what I'm referred to, read this story. And then think about it for the next hour. Sometimes, we get lost in the gamemanship about turnout and number crunching we forget. For one hour today, one man received the full brunt of the State's power. Politics isn't a game.

I don't mean to start a debate on the death penalty, nor should you take this story as any indication of my views. But sometimes we need to have some perspective, and I think this story brings today into a new perspective for me.