I’ve been a fan of William Hershey from the Dayton Daily News for awhile. He’s fair and he’s got a good grasp of what really matters in politics. Despite his saturation in the minutiae of statehouse politics, he recognizes that voters don’t waste their time with details of statehouse politicking. And in his most recent piece, he uses a couple experts to back it up.
Yesterday’s column from Hershey perfectly sums up the politics of the budget deal and what they mean for the 2010 election:
Compared to the unemployment rate, the budget numbers probably don’t mean much politically.
“Budgets are hard to explain,” said John Green, director of the Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron.
In other words, unless the budget process had actually collapsed and schools started closing due to state spending cuts, nobody’s going to pay much attention to the Statehouse circus.
“In these economic times, it would take a government shutdown for Ohio voters to pay attention to the budget negotiations in the same way they are watching unemployment figures and job losses,” Eric Rademacher, co-director of the Ohio Poll at the University of Cincinnati, said in an e-mail.
The unemployment rate is easy to understand.
It means that more than one out of 10 Ohioans is out of work.
It’s been that way for eight straight months of double-digit unemployment and nobody’s predicting a turnaround – as in Turn Around Ohio, Strickland’s 2006 campaign theme – soon.
“Even if I’m not unemployed, my neighbor is,” said Green.
In other words, the budget mess means squat.
It’s nothing new from what I’ve said over and over again on this blog, 2010 is jobsjobsjobsjobsjobsjobsjobsjobsjobsjobsjobs.
You may recall a conversation I had with Peter Brown from Quinnipiac that I posted about here. Regarding Ohio’s economy and Strickland’s chances, he had this to say:
Ted Strickland’s chances of turning around the Ohio economy when the rest of the nation’s economy goes like this [points down] is zero. And intellectualy, everybody understands that, but that won’t stop them from voting him out.
Voters are much less complex than many of us think. They like things. They don’t like things. Most of them don’t focus on specifics. [In 2008,] Barack Obama was the antidote to George W. Bush. In Ohio, John Kasich is the antidote to Ted Strickland.
In other words, it’s hard to find any acknowledged expert that would claim something as minutiae-ridden as the Ohio budget deal would be a game changer for Strickland.
A game changer would be a massive TURNAROUND (hint hint) in Ohio’s economy.
So, based on the most recent unemployment rate, what’s the best case scenario on jobs for Ted Strickland?
Last month, when unemployment was at 10.5%, I asked the same question. Here’s how I devised what Strickland’s best case scenario really is:
What if we get particularly generous and give Strickland the average rate of improvement from the best nine month period of economic recovery in Ohio since 1976 – January through September of 1983.
That improvement averaged 0.3% over nine months.
Ok. So if unemployment reports start decreasing at 0.3% per month beginning in January, what will unemployment be come early to mid-September when paid media really starts to saturate Ohio TVs?
About 500,000 Ohioans out of work.
60% higher than when Strickland took office.
With these kinds of numbers, does anyone possibly think Strickland will be able to diffuse millions of dollars worth of television commercials hitting him for failing to live up to his promise to Turnaround Ohio?
And remember, 8.5% is a best case scenario, if Ohio’s historical economic trends hold fast.
Jobs. It’s all about jobs.