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.

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.


Christopher King said...

Welcome to the Machine.

Disclaimer: I am biased because I was a law clerk and AAG during the Fisher administration. Case Western '93, Undergrad Cincinnati, bartended at Sudsy Malones before I was editor of the Call & Post down there -- which of course is how I met Kenny Boy.

I met Jerry Springer at Sudsy's in '87 he was always there late night pounding beers with me but that is another story entirely.


I like your line about Blackwell being at the brunt of it all, because after connecting with Blacks Against Blackwell,

I didn't trust that jackass from the moment I met him in the 80's so I kept that story in a folder for just the Right Time.

That time is now. You can follow what else was said in that 1989 story when you get to the first related post:


Christopher King said...

BTW my friend and mentor was Lou Jacobs, then a tenured and now emeritus professor at OSU, and my ex-fiancee and I both supported GLBLT causes (she was OSU '96) but that hasn't seemed to make OSU's Law Dork welcome me with open arms, and Daily Kos kicked me right off of their happy little board as well.

It's All Good, mate.