Ouch! The Day-After Ohio Catharsis

While I prepared for an Obama victory, I was honestly expecting Romney to win.  The 5:00 exit polls came in and showed a tight race, and that worried me.  Then we fell for Lucy’s football again as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were called for Obama at the same time that Florida and North Carolina were still undecided.  I think that’s when I believed that Nate Silver of the 538 blog was going to be right.

So I’ll go deeper into the counties as time goes on, and I think we’re going to really look at what happened with turnout.  Obama got 268,000 fewer votes in 2012 than he had in 2008, Romney got 107,000 fewer votes than McCain, and finally to rub salt in the wound, John McCain would have beaten this year’s Barack Obama by 6,000 votes (some votes still out, but you get the idea).  Where did these John McCain voters go?  Did Romney really move too conservatively, or was the Tea Party too loud?  Was it that he was the Massachusetts moderate who authored Romneycare? Did the economy-only campaign allow the lady parts argument to go unchallenged?  Could it really have been a Mormon issue?

I2012 County Election Results‘ll just show two maps and then continue to cry in my beer.  The first is the county win/loss map which shows a greater urban shift than was seen in 2008.  The Ohio River counties did not vote for the Democrat.  It was the larger cities throughout the state turned out for Obama, as well as smaller counties that have state universities.  If you watched FoxNews last night, you saw Karl Rove get upset that the call was made with Hamilton County (Cincinnati) only 25% counted.  Well those suburbs didn’t matter as this is apparently no longer a Republican county.  The cities stereotypically have more minorities, more service jobs, and more union members.  Jack Kemp was the last Republican that I can remember that would talk directly to urban residents and provide conservative solutions.

2012 Ohio County Election ShiftNext we have the “Shift” map from the New York Times.  They unfortunately use arrows instead of bubbles, but it is interesting to look at.  We see that while cities still gave much of their support to Obama, the Republican actually made gentle inroads.  Much of the map of Ohio and of the United States show red arrows as Obama generally underperformed his 2008 result, and the larger arrows on the east and west edges are nice.  But then there are the blue arrows.  What is going on in south-central Ohio?  Those counties gave Romney 52%-59% of their vote, but why the decrease from McCain?

A very disappointing election.  After we lost in 2008, I thought “OK, we have four years to make an argument.”  Well we made a strong argument based on constitutional principles and against the progressive agenda.  Now we have four more years of Obama.

After spending my youth as a liberal, I began to realize that my Democrats were simply not capable of delivering what they were promising.  I realized that arguments like “Republicans want dirty air” just didn’t make sense.  I first needed to accept the fact that I could be wrong before I decided that, in fact, I was wrong.  It was only then could I listen to Rush Limbaugh with new ears, and understand the bigotted treatment of Clarence Thomas with new eyes.  And only after using my mind to wrestle through these ideas could I consider voting for a Republican.

Best of luck to the Republican governors, who now hold 30 seats across the country.  We need to rethink how we address the national agenda either a conservative or a Republican perspective because as of right now, we’re lost.

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Ohio Election Night: What to Watch and What Else to Watch

At the last weekend of the campaign, my confidence is not as high as I’d like it.  Four years ago, I was sure that Barack Obama would win but I also saw a path for McCain.  Then at 8:15 when they called Pennsylvania, I knew it was over.  Today they are many different iterations for a Romney win, but the bottom line RCP electoral map suggests that Obama is ahead and has an easier path to victory.  The current no-toss up map has Obama winning 290-248 which means Romney must win… as was true three months ago… Ohio plus one.

Before I talk about what to watch in Ohio on election night, I’ve been looking at a Romney path that does not include Ohio.  Ohio has lost population over the last number of years and the population that remains may include more Democrats.  Obama voters who see the impact of a struggling economy, and who otherwise would be ripe for a switch on Election Night, have been barraged with anti-Romney information.  Some don’t like the Bain Capital narrative and others are worried about the social conservative agenda.  Whatever the case, I think there have been very few undecided voters in Ohio and it will all depend on turnout.

So without Ohio, Pennsylvania plus one becomes the mantra.  Pennsylvania is very similar to Ohio where Philadelphia is the Cleveland / Northeast Ohio, the Pittsburgh area is the region from Youngstown and to the south, and the middle of PA is the middle and west of OH.  So if Romney wins Pennsylvania, he just needs New Hampshire or Iowa or Colorado.  Easy enough… if he wins Pennsylvania.

Another problem though might be Virginia.  I was thinking about which regions of the country would Obama’s enthusiasm level be greater now than in 2008, and I wonder about the DC area and the Virginia coast.  So it is somewhat unlikely, but Virginia has been a target of negative ads just like Ohio and Obama could win both states.  So now, Romney needs these “new battleground” states of Pennsylvania plus two if they include Wisconsin or Michigan.  It would be Pennsylvania plus three if you need NH, IA, and CO.  That could be doable, but much more challenging.

**Update.  A couple hours after I posted this, I saw an iteration chart from the New York Times.  It looks at each of the 512 iterations of the 9 swing states and finds that Obama has 431 different ways to win while Romney only has 76.  This contains the standard list of swing states which includes NC and does not include PA.  Still, a nice interactive website to visit.

Back to Ohio, I’ll be looking at different county numbers because (as any follower of Ohio elections knows) Cuyahoga is a big county, heavily Democratic, and notoriously late in producing its results.  Expect Romney to take an early lead, but only time will tell who the eventual winner will be.  For those looking toward a 2010 turnout, that election saw five House seats switch from Democrat to Republican.  (New York also saw five Democrats lose their seats, and four Democrats lost their seats in Florida, Illinois, and… Pennsylvania.)  But in this big Republican year, Ohio elected John Kasich as Governor in a very tight race at 49-47.  Here is that county map.

Ohio County Map for Kasich 2010As is typical, Democrats do very well in the north then the map stretches down the southeast edge.  What keeps this map from showing a Governor Strickland victory are the narrow Kasich victories in Hamilton County (Cincinnati) and Montgomery County (Dayton) and the decisive Kasich victories in the surrounding ones.  President Obama, who won Ohio 51-47, took these two larger counties in 2008.

Looking at the Presidential elections of 2004 and 2008, we can look at the big three I-71 counties:
Hamilton (Cincinnati) – Kerry 47%, Obama 52%
Franklin (Columbus) – Kerry 54%, Obama 59%
Cuyahoga (Cleveland) – Kerry 66.6%, Obama 68.5%

Other medium-large counties that are slightly Democrat-leaning but otherwise good barometers of the state are:
Montgomery (Dayton): Kerry 50.6%, Obama 51.8%
Stark (Canton): Kerry 50.6%, Obama 50.2%

And finally there are the next two largest Bush-to-Obama counties (Hamilton is the largest):
Lake (east of Cuyahoga): Kerry 48.5%, Obama 49.3%
Wood (south of Toledo): Kerry 46.4%, Obama 52.5%

I will also be watching two House races to gauge any coat-tail strength.  OH-16 pits incumbents Jim Renacci and Betty Sutton.  On paper, the map favors Renacci but Sutton has put up a good fight and this race is currently a toss-up.  Also OH-06 is a 2010 rematch between Tea Party freshman Bill Johnson and the former Blue Dog Charlie Wilson.  This race is fought in those Ohio River counties that supported Obama in 2008 and Ted Strickland in 2010.  Johnson is favored, but if Wilson makes it close then it may also show strength in this region for Barack Obama.

Finally we have a Senate race which has seen the young Treasurer Josh Mandel slowly… slowly… creep up in the polls.  He is a clear underdog.  There have been both positive and negative ads on both sides, but there is simply little Josh Mandel traction.  If he is winning this race, then a Romney victory is practically a sure thing.  Sherrod Brown has built enough strength to survive a Mitt Romney Ohio victory; the same cannot be said of Josh Mandel with an Obama victory.

So there we go.  I expect Ohio to be a frustrating state to watch on election night, but log onto the Secretary of State’s website and look at these county percentages to see where Ohio is going well before it is called.

Ohio: 30 Days Away

I admit that I am fairly concerned about Ohio’s vote next month.  The September polls that were showing a 6-10 point Obama lead are tightening up after the first Denver debate.  I shared in the skepticism of the samples being skewed to the Democrat side, but when each and every poll shows the same result, there’s an instinct to begin believing it.  I remember hearing years ago that polling firms that had a bias also still had an interest in being right, so they would put out whatever story they wanted through September and October as long as they revised it to match the truth by November.

Both Romney and Obama have made weekly stops here in Ohio for the last month.  Obama will usually make his stops in the cities like Cleveland, Toledo, and Cincinnati, no longer making visits to places like Tuscarawas County that helped him to pad his margin of victory in 2008.  Romney’s visits have been to the outer suburbs of the major markets in places like Lake County, Akron, and to Paul Ryan’s Miami University between Dayton and Cincinnati.

Nate Silver of the 538 Blog has the Obama chance of winning Ohio at 79%, but he also has Ohio as the most likely tipping point state.  Whoever can win Ohio’s 18 electoral votes will have an easier path to victory.  Other close states at the moment are Colorado (9), Iowa (6), and New Hampshire (4) and even if Romney wins those three (as well as Virginia and Florida, two states that Silver still has as blue), an Obama victory in Ohio would put him over the 270 mark.  If Romney wins Ohio (plus VA and FL), then he still needs to carry one of those remaining swing states to win the election.

Other states that I was hoping would be more competitive are the Great Lakes states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.  Minnesota is not on the Great Lakes, but it is the Land of 10,000 Lakes so we include that state as well as Illinois which are completely unwinnable.  The Great Lakes states are like dominoes where Indiana is the most red followed by Ohio.  If Ohio doesn’t fall the Republicans way, then it’s very unlikely that any of the other states will fall.

David Joyce: Latourette TNG

Last month the seven county GOP leaders encompassed in the northeast 14th district, selected Geauga County Prosecutor David Joyce to replace Steve LaTourette.  LaTourette has been critical of the partisanship in the current Congress and decided to retire AFTER winning the Republican nomination in March, thereby preventing the nutty Tea Party voters from competing for his seat.  In selecting Joyce, the county leaders picked somebody much like LaTourette who was the Lake County Prosecutor and is respected by both sides of the aisle.  Here’s more from the Plain Dealer.

David Joyce speaks at a Romney rallyI actually heard both Steve LaTourette and David Joyce during a rainy day in Painesville at a Mitt Romney event in mid-September.  Joyce was good enough and is close to a shoe-in to win the November election.  Joyce’s opponent is not well-known or well-funded.  Democrats may choose this district as one of those to pick off in 2014 as they seek to regain some Congressional seats in (according to the  recent frustrating polls) “Blue” Ohio.

On a day that featured Joyce, Senator Portman, Senate candidate Mandel, and Mitt Romney, the most engaging speaker was Steve LaTourette himself.  It made me feel bad when thinking about my earlier posts criticizing his moderate stances, but he is responsible for the bed he made.  LaTourette spoke passionately about the problems with the policies of Obamacare and the means by which it was achieved.  He also spoke about jobs and the economy, and how the hyper-regulation of the EPA has specifically prevented local businesses from expansion and development.  That argument has unfortunately been missing in the Romney or Mandel campaigns, and they should get LaTourette to open all their events in Ohio and the rest of the swing states.  It was that good.

Ohio and the Precarious Blue Wall

Just a quick observation regarding Ohio’s place in the electoral college at this moment in polling time. The RealClearPolitics map without toss-up states gives Obama a 332-206 lead as of July 6.  It gives Romeny the toss-up states of Missouri and North Carolina, but Obama wins the rest.  Well I’ve heard that Florida and Virginia will be drifting towards Romney as the year goes on which is why Obama will be making the Midwest his second home.  Flipping those two states puts the Obama lead at 290-248 which leaves him only 22 electoral votes to spare.

There are many ways for Romney to get to 22, and the easiest way would be to get Ohio (18 votes) plus any other state which at the moment includes New Hampshire (4 votes).  Pennsylvania (20) plus one would get him there also, but Ohio might be an easier get.  The other medium-sized toss-up states include Michigan (16), Wisconsin and Minnesota (10), and Colorado (9).  Nevada and Iowa (6) make up the balance.

John McCain did not win a single Great Lakes state – not even Indiana.  I think Romney can make this whole region competitive despite who he picks as Vice-President although the Midwest money should be on Rob Portman or maybe Paul Ryan, Tim Pawlenty or Mitch Daniels.  This all assumes that Florida and Virginia move to Romney because things will get much more difficult if those two states remain in the blue wall.

Ohio: Super Tuesday to November

It looks like Mitt Romney will sneak past Rick Santorum in Ohio by about 38%-37%.  Romney had some momentum with some victories last week, and conventional wisdom said that Santorum would be hurt by all the negative press on the social issues.  (This would be the Limbaugh – Fluke flap.)  But Santorum had obviously built up enough trust and good will among Ohio voters to give him the edge through most of the night.

Romney has done well with urban Republicans, a fact that causes some people concern while other people see it as an asset.  Here is a side-by-side comparison of the Romney-Santorum county map with the Obama-McCain county map.

We see that Romney beat Santorum in most of northeast Ohio, then in the Columbus and the Cincinnatti areas.  The rest of the state including the appalachian and rural areas went to Santorum.  In 2008, Obama won the three big cities plus more of northeast Ohio, the Toledo area, and a few counties by the Ohio river.

So Romney’s strength is regionally identical to Obama’s strength.  The Optimist: “Romney’s urban strength will weaken the margin of victory Obama has in the cities, while the more conservative areas will still hold strong for the Republican.”  The Pessimist: “the turnout in the cities will overwhelm the Republican, and the conservative turnout will be dampened by a candidate like Mitt Romney.”  It remains to be seen which scenario is correct, but I’m afraid that this is the question we’ll be asking ourselves for the next eight months.

In addition to winning the state, Romney has won ten congressional districts while Santorum took six.

There are seven Romney districts in red and three in pink.  These pink disctricts are ones where Rick Santorum failed to get his delegate nominations on the ballot.  These include the Lake Erie district (Marcy Kaptur) and the Younstown district (Tim Ryan) which both would have been won by Romney anyway.  Rick Santorum won the counties included in the southeastern ohio River district (Bill Johnson), so he could have closed it to a 9-7 split with this district flipping to his side.  The red district just to the north of Columbus (Pat Tibiri) was a close call for most of the night, but Romney ended up with a slight edge here.

Santorum had a very slight edge in the 8th district just north of Cincinnatti (John Boehner), but won more comfortably in the rest of the state with particular strength in the northwest districts (Bob Latta and Jim Jordan).   He also won the Democratic 3rd district in Columbus, an unexpected result given Romney’s win in Franklin County.

In other races in the state, Josh Mandel won the Senate nomination with 63% of the vote.  The second place challenger got 14% and ran for Senate as a Tea Party Independent in 2010, while I’ll admit that Donna Glisman is a surprise getting 12%.  I believe Mandel will be a strong candidate with some national appeal (RedState and Jim DeMint), and will bring a good fight to Sherrod Brown and his national appeal (DailyKos and MSNBC).

Two incumbent Congressmen lost in primary races.  Toledo’s Marcy Kaptur was endorsed by Cleveland’s Plain Dealer, and her strength in the Lake Erie distrct was too much for Dennis Kucinich to survive.  I look for him to either move to Washington state to continue his political career, or maybe he’ll switch gears and become a contributor to FoxNews.  Either way, his chapters in Cleveland seem to be coming to a close.  In a surprising race, Brad Wenstrup (http://usabrad.com/) beat Jean Schmidt in Ohio’s 2nd district.  Jean Schmidt had never had a comfortable race since taking over the seat vacated by Rob Portman in 2005, and she obviously could not appeal to newer voters in a redrawn district.  Finally in the new Columbus 3rd district, Joyce Beatty (http://beattyforcongress.com/) won a tight race against former one-term Congresswoman MaryJo Kilroy and she is likely to win this Democratic seat in November.

A long night here in Ohio.  Romney seems to have held his 2:1 margin in delegates over Rick Santorum.  Next week we move south, and if Romney is the front runner then he’ll have to try and compete in Alabama and Mississippi.  Losses there will cause people to continue to question his strength as a front-runner and he’ll have to chalk up victories in the dominican territories (which are likely wins for Romney) which follow afterward.  Two weeks from now is the next Super Tuesday with Illinois in play.

The path to victory is more difficult after tonight for Santorum and especially for Gingrich, but it is not impossible. Mitt Romney was the conservative choice four years ago, and voters may have to satisfy themselves with pushing him even more to the right in 2012.

Santorum in Ohio and After

A new Quinnipiac poll was released this Friday and PPP and other firms are going to be polling through the weekend, and it shows that Mitt Romney got a bump after his Michigan win but not enough to take an Ohio lead over Santorum. National polls show a bigger jump, but that has changed after every state election. Super Tuesday will be very important for Rick Santorum if he is going to win the nomination. Ohio is as close to a must-win as you can get.

Currently Romney has about twice as many delegates as the second-place Santorum. Even if Santorum wins Ohio on Tuesday, his absence in Virginia and Romney’s strength in Massachusetts will more than cancel out the margin of victory in Ohio. Santorum also was not able to get on the ballot in every Ohio congressional district.  Looking at the total delegate count on Tuesday, it will likely be about a 2:1 victory for Romney which will certainly get every television soul with a mouth proclaiming that Santorum should give up.

In reality, Gingrich should be the one to give up first. (Ron Paul should as well, but nobody expects that.) If Gingrich only wins Georgia and neither Oklahoma nor Tennessee, it’ll be doubtful he could win Alabama and Mississippi the following week. With Gingrich out and Santorum sticking strong, those states may not be likely to vote for Romney and should give their delegates to Santorum.  (Although Alabama has an interesting Republican problem, as presented in Redstate by Daniel Horowitz.)

The weekend after Alabama / Mississippi is the Missouri caucus where Santorum’s “beauty contest” win will be challenged by Romney in a very severe way. The next Tuesday is a big fight in Illinois with Hawaii, Samoa, and Puerto Rico chalking up votes along the way. Santorum needs to play for and get delegate wins because at this rate, Romney can just play for delegate ties and keep his lead in place.

Looking at the crosstabs in Quinnipiac poll, it shows an expected divide among conservative and moderate Republicans as opposed to the strange exit polls out of Michigan.  Santorum leads Romney and Gingrich among conservatives 40-27-18 and among Tea Party supporters 42-25-22, and also among people who do not identify themselves as Tea Party supporters 35-32-13.  Romney leads among moderates by 46-26-13.  Romney also has small leads among those with a college degree 37-34-14 and with non-evangelicals 37-35-13, and Romney has a significant lead among those 65+ by 40-27-17.  Every other demographic, even among women, shows that Santorum is the current favorite.  Finally, Santorum also has the smallest unfavorable rating at 24% with Romney at 34%, Gingrich at 38%, and Paul at 42%.

This weekend will show different numbers and maybe Romney will catch up and take a small lead.  He is definitely outspending his competition with radio and TV ads, although the Gingrich PAC has also made its presence felt.  Ohio Republicans have had election problems for about a decade.  Josh Mandel should be a good candidate for Ohio conservatives to rally around, but that competition has not started yet.  Mitt Romney has the establishment smell of a Bob Taft and Bob Ney, but only for conservatives who recognize those names.  Santorum has had a very good run as the last of the anti-Romneys and Ohio will be a nice notch in his belt if he can get it.