Sunday, September 24, 2006

Why 2010 may be a more important election for Ohio than 2008

Some have said that this election is so important because whomever wins the Gubernatorial race will be a necessary asset for their party to win Ohio as a swing state for the 2008 Presidential race. Notice I said "some" as I am not one of those people who actually believe it. I can't think of a single swing state in 2004 that was decided based on who was Governor (with perhaps the exception of Florida, but that had more to do with a family connection to the candidate than which party was in control.)

Instead, if the predictions are correct, the present election could make the 2010 elections far more political important. First, the news update: Five polls were released in the past week, and all showed Ted Strickland with monster leads over Ken Blackwell (Rasmussen, Survey USA, The Ohio Poll, Quinnipiac University Poll, and the Columbus Dispatch):

SurveyUSA 9/21
Strickland 56% Blackwell 35%

Rasmussen Reports 9/20
Strickland 54% Blackwell 35%

Ohio Poll 9/20
Strickland 50% Blackwell 38%

Quinnipiac University Poll 9/19
Strickland 55% Blackwell 34%

Columbus Dispatch 9/24
Strickland 52% Blackwell 33%

These poll all show Strickland with large advantage in almost all demographic groups, and a significant advantage among women voters. Some polls shows that Strickland is now competitive within Blackwell's home base of southwestern Ohio.

The Columbus Dispatch polling shows that not only is a Strickland victory likely, but that Democrats are favored in capturing the office of State Treasurer, Auditor, and Secretary of State, leaving only Betty Montgomery's campaign to retake her former office as Attorney General as the only favored statewide race for Republicans now. If these numbers bear out on Election Day, some six weeks hence, then not only will the Republicans 12-year monopoly be broken, but it would be a partisan turnover of the Executive Branch we have not seen since, 1994.

However, if Betty Montgomery wins her election, she becomes the prohibitive favorite to challenge Ted Strickland's re-election in 2010. As a challenger, Montgomery doesn't come to race with the extremist baggage that Blackwell voluntarily brought into the race. As a moderate, Montgomery could pose a problem for Strickland. As the first female gubernatorial candidate, Montgomery's challenge for female voters could prove more problematic than Blackwell's ineffective play for the African-American group, a much smaller voting group of the electorate.

The 2010 race is important because as Ohio law stands now, which party wins those statewide offices will dictate the partisan composition of the bodies which draw the new state legislative and congressional districts for Ohio after the 2010 Census. Under current Ohio law, the Ohio State House and Senate districts are redrawn by a body comprised of one legislative member from both parties, the Governor, the Secretary of State, and the State Auditor. Therefore, if Strickland, Sykes, and Brunner all win in 2006 and are re-elected in 2010 (or Democrats win those races in 2010), then Democrats will have the ability to redraw the legislative districts of the General Assembly, making it possible that the Democrats could compete in enough districts to take over the state legislature as well.

Sound too far-fetched? Well, just remember that it was the victories of George Voinovich for Governor and Bob Taft for Secretary of State in 1990 that gave the Republicans a 3-2 majority of the Apportionment Board. That Board redrew lines that lead to the Republican majorities in the General Assembly in subsequent elections which, in turned, changed the national perception of Ohio as a Democratic leaning state to a solid Republican state.

With the potentional of Democratic majorities in both the Executive and Legislative branches by 2012, the Ohio Republicand Party (which will likely see a change in leadership before the 2008 elections) may find itself with as thin of a bench for the 2012 statewide elections that the Democratic Party found itself in in the disasterous 1994 election (and every election until 2006.)

That's why the 2010 election is more important to the Democratic Party than 2008. Whomever the Democratic Presidential candidate is, he or she will need to win Ohio on their own. A Gov. Strickland doesn't give that candidate any home field advantage.

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