Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Just how popular is Ken Blackwell's Turnpike privatization plan?

Well, according to Pho From Akron, not that popular in neighboring Indiana, the state who Ken Blackwell personally used as evidence in support of his corporate giveaway.

According to a poll by the Indianapolis Star, only 30% of Indiana residents thought the lease was a good idea. 60% of Indiana residents thought it was a bad idea. And how popular is the turnpike lease among the communities most directly affected by it? Well, in northern Indiana where the turnpike is actually located, 73% of the residents there believe the turnpike privatization was a bad idea.

How much political capital has the turnpike privatization costs Governor Mitch Daniels, who campaigned with Ken Blackwell in support of Blackwell's similar privatization plan? Well, his approval ratings have plummeted to the lowest level for any Indiana Governor in their first year in the history of Indiana polling, and a majority of residents now believe the state is on the wrong track.

Luckily for the Buckeye State, we have a choice this November which can prevent our State's transportation channels from being sold to the highest foreign bidder under this disastrous and highly unpopular corporate giveaway. Vote for Ted Strickland for Governor.

Blackwell admits he lied about Strickland's record on taxes

First, Ken Blackwell releases an ad accusing Ted Strickland for being for the marriage penalty and against all kinds of tax cuts.

Then, Ted Strickland issues a rebuttal ad that demonstrates that he has, in fact, supported on numerous occasions the very kind of tax cuts Blackwell's ad alleged Strickland opposed. The ad ends with a claim that Blackwell's mandatory health insurance plan is going to cost families money they don't have under Blackwell's one-size-fits-all mandatory insurance scheme. Because Blackwell's plan doesn't detail how much the mandatory plans will costs Ohio families, Strickland's campaign relies on a third-party source for a market-based equivalent estimate.

The Blackwell campaign publicly cries foul and accuses the Strickland campaign of putting forth a false ad about how much Blackwell's health insurance tax will be under his mandatory insurance scheme. There's no complaints about the ad's accuracy in demonstrating the previous Blackwell ad as being misleading and untrue.

Instead of reporting on how the Blackwell campaign was publicly revealed to be lying about Strickland's record on taxes, the media instead reports on Blackwell's claims (which have yet to been supported with a contrasting estimate of his mandatory insurance tax) that Strickland is misleading voters on how much Blackwell's plan will costs Ohio's families.

Caught red-handed in a lie, and Blackwell escapes by accusing his opponent (again, with no corroborating evidence) of lying. How much will Ken Blackwell's mandatory insurance tax cost Ohio's families? We simply can't afford to wait until January to find out.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Blackwell bleeding Republican support

The breakdown of the latest August Rasmussen Reports polling on the Strickland-Blackwell race shows that Blackwell is getting more and more hampered in his ability to turn this race around. In short, with each passing month, Blackwell fundamental numbers are getting worse, making it far more difficult for him to be able to overcome the sizeable lead Ted Strickland has been building.

In my last post, I theorized that one or two possibilities as for the fourteen-point swing. Either more Republicans became undecides and some previously undecideds became Strickland supporters, or more Republicans became Strickland supporters. It appears from the latest data publicly released that the latter is the case.

Over at conservative blogs like Right Angle Blog's post, "Is Ken Blackwell Destined to Lose?," what began as a passing along the ORP's rallying cry turned into a rather hostile discussion about whether Blackwell has started to run to the center and betrayed the conservatives or whether the voters, tired of Republican rule, will suddenly become Blackwell Republicans because he's somehow a different type of Republican than the rest of the Republican leadership team he's been apart of for the last 16 years and even though he has the endorsement and fundraising support of highly unpopular Governor Bob Taft.

What becomes of this debate and it's impact on the election is unclear. However, what is clear is that for yet another month, Ken Blackwell's negatives have increased despite no attack ads against him. From June to July, according to Rasmussen, the percentage of Ohioans who view Ken Blackwell very unfavorably increased six percentage points. According to Rasmussen's latest poll, it's increased another 4%, leading to a 10-point increase in the number of people viewing Blackwell very unfavorably over the summer. That kind of increase despite no negative or comparison ads is rather surprising. Currently, 40% of Ohioans have a favorable view of Blackwell, and 55% have an unfavorable view (leaving only 5% as undecided or with no opinion). In contrast, 59% of Ohioans have a favorable view of Congressman Ted Strickland.

Conservatives, like those at RAB, are trying to spin the race that people aren't so much voting FOR Strickland, but AGAINST Blackwell, and that therefore, support for Strickland is soft. Even if this were true, under these numbers even if Strickland's support WERE soft, it's clear that opposition to Blackwell is very strong. Blackwell's net favorability rating is currently -15%. If you compared his entire favorability rating to just his very unfavorable rating, Blackwell's favorability is only +5%, which is technically within 4.5% margin of error.

Furthermore, Blackwell continues to lose support among Republican voters. Less than 60% of Republican voters currently plan on voting for Blackwell according to the most recent Rasmussen Reports poll. This is lowest amount of support Ken Blackwell has received among Republican voters. Strickland's base is largely in tact, with less than 10% of Democratic voters crossing-over to vote for Blackwell and he has large leads among independent voters where he gets 55% of the independent votes. Although the most recent Rasmussen release did not say how much Strickland is capturing an Republican cross-over vote, the Rasmussen poll from late July showed Strickland getting an impressive 24% of the Republican vote.

This Rasmussen poll is by far the worst polling numbers Blackwell has received as well as the best for Strickland. With such high unfavorabilitity ratings, and such a hugh lead among independents, Blackwell has a Herculeian task in front of him.

Nor will all disapproving Republicans will vote for Strickland. Many, and apparently, increasing number, of Republicans may decide in this hostile political election, to stay at home instead of voting for Strickland. If they do, that could make things even more problematic for the lower ticket and local races for the Republican Party this November.

To win, Blackwell is going to have to do something that has eluded him for the past three months since his primary "victory," he needs to reunite the Republican vote behind his candidacy, fundamentally alter the public's view of both him and his opponent, and neutralize Strickland's cross-over appeal and Independent voter advantages.

And he has less than 73 days in which to do this.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Strickland steams ahead while Blackwell falters at critical moment

There's just no other way to say this: Ted Strickland is creaming Ken Blackwell.

The August edition of the Rasmussen Reports is out, and my nervousness about how Strickland's numbers had stagnated over the summer was replaced by joyous shock.

57%-32%
That's a 25-point lead. What happened? Well, apparently both campaigns numbers took some rest between the end of the primary and the fall. But then suddenly, it's like the electorate kicked into gear now that Strickland begun his TV ads about saving steel jobs in his district by working with leaders in both parties and the successful Turnaround Ohio bus tour through Republican parts of the district. For Blackwell, this poll couldn't be a worse result at a worst possible time.
Just how bad is it? Well, first there's the obvious 25-point margin. Then if you compare it to the July Rasmussen poll, you noticed that the race has widened by 14-points with Strickland gaining seven points, Blackwell losing seven points, and undecideds remaining static. Blackwell is down to the final three months of the campaign and he finds himself losing ground, instead of gaining it. This is the first poll that shows Strickland significantly over the 50% magic line.
Also, it's the first poll that Blackwell can't argue he could still easily win. Until now, Strickland has been low enough that although he was at or slightly over 50%, Blackwell was high enough to say that if he got ALL the undecided votes (a virtually impossible task for him), then the race is statistically a dead heat. In this result, Blackwell has to not only capture all of the undecideds, but take away over 7% of Strickland's support in a race that is hostile to his party and where Strickland has nearly twice the campaign resources. Blackwell's negatives continue to hold him down. While Strickland's support may have been soft, it's because there's is still room for him to either grow or fall depending on how he handles voters getting to know him still. Blackwell is stuck with been a known polarizing and unpopular individual.
And it is impossible for Blackwell to get more of the undecided votes. The fact is that Blackwell has near universal name recognition in Ohio because he has been in statewide offices for over 16 years. Ohioans, though, are ready for a change in statewide leadership. And Blackwell, as top of the ticket and 16-year state officeholder, is the best candidate to receive the brunt of the electorate's displeasure at Republican rule. So chances are that 11% undecided vote has already decided that it probably won't vote for Blackwell, but hasn't been sold on Strickland. If the undecideds start to break, chances are it will be mostly towards Strickland.
In short, these numbers make it very difficult for Blackwell to say that he's really still in this race. What made this 14-point swing happen? Largely, Blackwell himself. Lately, Blackwell's public comments have been very pointed about claiming that if he can keep this race about himself and Ted Strickland he can win, but if the race is about Iraq, the President, or Bob Taft, then Ted Strickland will probably win.
I agree that Blackwell's best shot is to keep this race between himself and Strickland. But, Blackwell hasn't exactly done much to keep this race from being about anything other than himself. In the past month, Blackwell 's biggest public action has been a multi-million dollar fundraiser with President Bush. He's also had fundraisers with highly unpopular Governors Bob Taft and Mitch Daniels (most Ohioans probably don't know who Mitch Daniels is, so it was somewhat odd that the Blackwell campaign thought his support and endorsement of Blackwell's Turnpike privatization plan would do much.) Just yesterday, Ken Blackwell had another fundraiser in Toledo of all places (while the Noe Coingate trial is beginning to gear up) with Karl Rove of all people. Therefore, through no effort by Ted Strickland or the Democratic Party, Ken Blackwell has tied himself to the most unpopular state and national Republicans to Ohioans.
What's so bad about the timing? First, it's less than three months from the election and Blackwell has shown no momentum to show he's close to winning this. In fact, he's doing worse than Bob Taft's last opponent did. The campaign season starts in earnest on Labor Day weekend, and this will be the last poll (or one of the last polls) right before that season. At this time, the national and state parties and looking to re-evaluate the political landscape, reassess these races and dedicate resources to get them through the final stretch. Already some national political forecasters were ready to call this a likely Democratic race from a leaning Democratic race. This poll may be the tipping point, and Republicans may decide it's time to cut bait on Blackwell.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Return of the Blackwell 30% Republican Support Club

Almost three weeks ago, I posted how Ken Blackwell's fundraiser with President George Bush could be called the meeting of the Ohio and National "30% Support Republican Club" since both currently only get approval ratings in Ohio in the 30s.

As I stated then, later this month, Blackwell would hold a meeting with the President Emeritus of the Ohio 30% Support Republican Club when Blackwell would be the guest of honor for a fundraiser hosted by Governor Bob Taft. Well, the fundraiser was Monday, and you couldn't find even one write up of Bob Taft's fundraiser or public support.

Nope, in a rare moment of campaign genius, the Blackwell campaign realized that Ohioans just wouldn't get Bob Taft's support of Ken Blackwell. So instead, the campaign rolled out the support of Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels.

And it truly was a shrewd maneuver. After all, why get stuck with the public support of the nation's most unpopular governor when you can instead appear with the public support the nation's fourth most unpopular governor? And what better idea is there than to publicly state that you have the same plans as the guy with a 39% approval rating?

Blackwell B.S. Alert!: Recently, Blackwell's campaign has been signaling that Blackwell might be willing to include caps on toll increases in response to his controversial turnpike privatization plan. This means that Ken Blackwell supports caps on the tolls on roads, but opposes caps on increases in tuition. Does that make any sense? Neither does Blackwell's apparently assertion that placing caps on the toll hikes the private companies can levy will have no effect on his promised $6 billion the privitatization of the Ohio Turnpike would generate.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

[UPDATED:] Blackwell's campaign blogger mocks African-Americans, opposes hate crime legislation

Boy, if you're going to be an official blogger for a Republican candidate trying to peel away the African-American vote, you'd think you'd be smart enough to scrub your own websites of your racist rhetoric.

Matt Naugle, Blackwell's official campaign blogger, has a facebook account that Buckeye State Blog recently captured for prosperity.

After recently claiming that Congressman Ted Strickland's outreach to African-American voters was somehow insincere (despite the fact that Strickland is introducing the only plan in the race for urban renewal), Naugle's membership to the "OSU White People" Club and his mocking comment that the lilly-white Naugle was "born a poor black child" screams of hypocracy.

UPDATE: Apparently, Mr. Naugle also opposes hate crime legislation as well. (Hat tip: Oberlin JJ at Buckeye State Blog.)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Scott Pullins caught in yet another lie about the Stricklands

Conservative blogger/attorney Scott Pullins of the Ohio Taxpayers Association is caught in yet again another lie in his continual attempt to smear Congressman Ted Strickland and his wife.

Pullins, desperate to rehabilitate himself in the conservative community after lending support to Republican tax increases in Ohio, now is trying to earn the good graces of the grassroots conservative movement by attacking the personal lives of Congressman Ted Strickland and his wife. First, Pullins spread the false rumors about Mr. and Mrs. Strickland's marriage and love life. Now, despite all evidence to the contrary, Mr. Pullins is hell-bent in continuing to push his ridiculous theory that Congressman Strickland and his wife do not actually live in the Lisbon apartment that they are registered in (despite knowing that the building they reside is owned by corporate entity renting out residential apartments in Lisbon and that they own the apartment building at 320 Market Street North in which the Stricklands live and are registered to vote.)

Here's the latest of Pullins' bold, yet completely unproven claims:

"The Pullins Report has fully documented any allegations that we have made about his residency using publicly available records. For example:

  • He and his wife are registered to vote at 320 North Market Street, in Lisbon, Ohio. But he has refused to document who pays for this location and it was formerly used as a campaign office according to records from the Federal Election Commission.
  • His candidacy petitions filed with the Ohio Secretary of State lists the address of 370 North Market Street, Lisbon, Ohio. The United States Postal Service lists this address as undeliverable. Additionally, Project Vote Smart lists this address as a campaign office." (emphasis added)
So, you've really done a thorough investigation, Pullins? You sure you have fully documented all of your allegations about your residency claims? Well you are asserting that Ted Strickland represented in his candidacy petitions, filed with the Ohio Secretary of State's office, that he certified, under penalty of election falsification, that his voting address is 370 North Market Street and that such an address in undeliverable according to the United States Postal Service.

If you examined the public records at the Secretary of State's office, as you claimed, then you surely would have seen that Strickland's petition shows his voting address as 320 North Market Street in Lisbon, Ohio, the very address that he is registered to vote according to the Columbiana County Board of Elections, and the very address of the residential apartment that the Stricklands reside.

I mean, in your thorough investigation, you did review these documents, correct?:

So much for Pullins' rock solid investigatory skills. I don't know why he's so obsessed with finding out who paid the Stricklands' rent (my guess: the Stricklands, and no, I don't expect the campaign to put out a press release saying, "Ted Strickland pays his own rent," just to satisfy Pullins.) He's obviously reviewed Ted Strickland's congressional campaigns' campaign finance reports with the Federal Elections Commission and found nothing. Where did the 370 North Market Street address come from? Because someone in Ken Blackwell's office screwed up and can't tell the difference from a "2" from a "7."

As I've posted in the past, the Stricklands used to rent part of the building for the congressional campaign and have been renting a separate part of the building (with the same address) for their residential apartment. The campaign paid for the campaign office, and the Stricklands have paying for their residence. I honestly can't even imagine what else Pullins imagines could have been the case. Regardless, he has presented absolutely no evidence of anything to the contrary.

Yet again Pullins is caught in a bold-face lie.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Yet another poll shows Strickland with massive lead and gaining six points since May

So much for saying that Strickland's support has plateaued during the summer. The most recent SurveyUSA poll out today shows Congressman Ted Strickland leading by twenty-two points. This is the second poll since the Columbus Dispatch's poll showed Strickland with a twenty-point lead over Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.

Applying the Ken Blackwell method of spinning polls, this means that Ted Strickland has widened his lead eleven points since the most recent Rasmussen Reports poll from last week.

The SurveyUSA poll of 503 likely voters shows Strickland safely above 50% support and well on his way to the 60% mark. And just as practically every poll has shown, Ken Blackwell continues to be stuck in the mid to upper-30s with only three months left in the election. Despite bringing in a reported $1.5 million from a political fundraiser with President Bush, Blackwell also reported raising only $2 million to Strickland's $2.5 million in June and July.

Just as other polls have shown, Blackwell continues to lag behind based on a divided Republican base and a complete lop-sided loss of independent voters and all other demographics except, predictably, Republicans and conservatives. In the battle of cross-over votes (Strickland grabbing moderate Republicans vs. Blackwell's capturing of the Democratic African-American voter) Strickland continues to win. Strickland is grabbing nearly four times the share of the Republican vote than Blackwell is grabbing a share of the Democratic vote. And as I've repeatedly said, since the Republican vote is larger than the Democratic vote, Strickland's cross-over advantage means he will get more than four times the cross-over votes than Blackwell. Therefore, Strickland is effectively counterbalancing any alleged advantage Blackwell is gaining by getting a larger than ususal share of the African-American vote for a Republican.

Although Blackwell does slightly better with male voters, there is no real gender gap in the race. Across the board, Strickland is dominating. Strickland is getting nearly three times the Independent vote to Blackwell. As all other cross-tabbed polls have shown, Blackwell is losing a quarter of the REPUBLICAN vote to Strickland, and is getting blown out of the water with Independent voters.

Prof. Larry Sabato, who runs his nationally known "Crystal Ball" series of political predictions, has stated in his most recent report on the race that he is tempted to move the race from Leaning Democratic to Likely Democratic. Badly trailing in the polls, unable to exceed the fundraising pace of his opponent who has a 5:3 cash-on-hand fundraising advantage, Blackwell should expect that his political fortunes will get worse as Republican strategists start to turn their attention to more contested races such as U.S. Senator Mike Dewine's race against Congressman Sherrod Brown and Cincinnati Councilman John Cranley's challenge to Congressman Steve Chabot. It also appears the downticket races may also be more competitive as well.

For Blackwell, time is almost up to demonstrate that he can still make this race competitive again as poll after poll demonstrates that Ohioans are rejecting his out-of-touch, extremist agenda.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Introducing the 30% Support Republicans Club

Here we see the Presidents of both the National and State chapters of the 30% Support Republicans Club. Sure, nearly two-thirds of all Ohioans oppose Ken Blackwell and President Bush, but only in such a lonely environment can true friendships bloom.

Obviously, this is before Blackwell learned that Ted Strickland still raised more money than he did in July, despite (or perhaps because) of the President's support.

But fear not Blackwell fans, Blackwell is planning another big fundraiser with the President Emeritus of the Ohio Chapter of the 30% Support Republicans Club: Ohio Governor Bob Taft.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Strickland continues solid lead, Blackwell has had no positive movement since Nov. '05

According to the July Rasmussen Reports, Congressman Ted Strickland continues to maintain his double-digit lead in the Ohio gubernatorial race with 50% to Blackwell's 39%. Now three months from the general election, Ken Blackwell's campaign has got to be getting nervous. As I stated back in May, Strickland's numbers had been rising and Blackwell was stuck in the upper-30s. Over the summer, it appears Strickland's support has plateaued around the magic 50% mark while Blackwell has stayed around the same numbers he's had since Rasmussen began polling the race in November 2005.

So, not only is Strickland's double-digit, magic 50% polling numbers causing Blackwell's campaign considerable heartburn, but the rest of the Rasmussen July poll should leave them an inconsolable wreck.

Among the eye-popping details of the poll:
  • Strickland is leading the Cross-Over Appeal Award. Strickland captures 23% of GOP voters and continues to do better with unaffiliated and independent voters. On the other hand, Blackwell only attracts only 9% of the Democratic cross-over vote. This means that Strickland is far more attractive to traditionally Republican voters while Blackwell is not managing to do any better with Democratic voters than any other Republican typically does. (This result has been found in several other statewide polls as well, using different methodologies than Rasmussen.)
  • Blackwell is up since June in one category (but not a cause of celebration.) The number of people who view Blackwell "very unfavorably" has gone up six points since last month. That's the only reported change in the poll that is statistically significant since June. 31% of Ohioans view "very unfavorably." These voters are unlikely, therefore, to change their minds before election day.
  • Ohioans really don't like Ken Blackwell. Overall, Blackwell has a net favorability rating of -5%. 48% of all Ohioans view Ken Blackwell unfavorably.
  • Ohioans really like Ted Strickland. In contrast, Congressman Strickland is viewed favorably by over 50% of Ohioans.
  • It's the economy, stupid. Ohioans rate the state's economy, by far, as the most important issue. After sixteen years of Republican control, dissatisfaction with the economy is not going to help Blackwell or the Republican Party.

In order to win, the Blackwell campaign is going to have to do something in the next three months it has failed to do in the past nine months. Blackwell's campaign is going to have to substantially rehabilitate the public's view of Blackwell while substantially redefine Ohioans' perception of Ted Strickland negatively.

Because of his near-universal name recognition and net negative favorability ratings, it's not enough for Blackwell to win over the remaining undecided voters or voters who feel that Strickland is an unknown. Blackwell must reverse the mass exodus of his party's base to Strickland, change his negative favorability ratings into the positive column, and drive Strickland's high favorability ratings down. Blackwell cannot catch up to Strickland while he's weighed down by his negative favorability ratings. They are the reason Blackwell has hit a ceiling in his support from which he has not been able to move from since November of last year. While Blackwell will likely have the resources to wage an effective campaign, Blackwell has failed to quiet growing Republican skepticism that he has the strategy and ability to execute a campaign which will continue the Republican Party's political dominance in Ohio.

And regardless of how many polls Republicans try to discredit, the inescapable conclusion is that Blackwell has done nothing to bridge the schism caused by his divisive primary with Attorney General Jim Petro and is too extreme and polarizing for the Ohio electorate. In short, people just don't like Ken Blackwell, and he's not done anything in the last nine months to suggest that he can convince people to change their minds about him.