Patrick Caddell and Douglas Schoen, the pollsters for the previous two Democratic Presidents, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, published a column in yesterday’s Washington Post providing a bit of a reality check to Democrats nationwide.
Bluntly put, this is the political reality:
First, the battle for public opinion has been lost. Comprehensive health care has been lost. If it fails, as appears possible, Democrats will face the brunt of the electorate’s reaction. If it passes, however, Democrats will face a far greater calamitous reaction at the polls. Wishing, praying or pretending will not change these outcomes.
Hear that, Mary Jo Kilroy, Steve Driehaus, John Boccieri, Zack Space, Betty Sutton, and Charlie Wilson?
But I wanted to take a look at a different challenge facing the vulnerable incumbent Ohio Democratic congressmen from Ohio, as identified by Charlie Cook.
Previously, I’ve discussed how the unemployment rates in individual counties could prove devastating to Governor Strickland’s chances. Well, it’s the House Members turn.
Below you will see 6 charts. One for each competitive Democratic House race. Each of the counties that are included in the District are listed along with their corresponding unemployment rates. The average unemployment rate of the district is then calculated at the bottom of each table. Additionally, each County is color coded along with how they voted in 2006. If they went solid Blue(55+), they are dark blue. If they went slightly for Strickland(50-55), they are light blue. If they went for Blackwell, they are red.
Click to enlarge
Interestingly enough, it’s the two seats widely considered to be the most vulnerable that have the lowest unemployment rate, Kilroy and Driehaus. Despite their lower than Ohio unemployment average, it doesn’t currently look like either Representative will hold on to their seat. Of course, they’re still over 10%, and that can’t help.
But what particularly interested me were the results from the Districts of Boccieri, Space, and Wilson. All went deep blue in 2006, the last midterm election. But the political environment and the unemployment rate was far different back then. And now, all three districts have an average rate of unemployment far higher than even Ohio’s 10.8%.
All politics is local. Voters in these districts will be vulnerable to attacks from each of the challengers. Republicans Renacci, Gibbs, and Johnson all have the potential to launch an effective critique microtargeting the unemployment rates in each of their specific Districts relative to the rest of the state and nation.
Does this mean the Democrats’ re-election chances hinge on their District’s unemployment rate? No, of course not. But it does mean their opponent will have a great line of attack in their efforts to takeover the seat.