There has been a glut recently of national stories proclaiming Ohio as the bellweather state for the 2010 midterm elections.
And as we all know, 2010 will have one helluva impact on 2012.
If Ohio is the nation’s political weathervane (and you can make a good case that it is), then a two-election trend toward Democrats may be over.
Things have changed. Ohio’s recession now seems to be owned by Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, whose handling of the state’s budget did little to instill confidence in voters that he has a plan to get the state back on track.
“Incumbents rarely get more popular when conditions worsen, whatever their party,” says political scientist Bert Rockman.
If the slide continues over the next two to three public-opinion surveys, then Democrats and the Obama administration have lots of reason to worry.
Clearly, it’s now conventional wisdom that Ohio is the most important state of the 2010 election.
And everyone will be looking at Kasich and Portman.
For that reason alone, money likely will never be a worry for either campaign. Obviously, they’ll both still need to work their tails off to get it, but come October of next year, contributors should have emptied their pockets to make sure these key races are secure.
Rockman’s quote also brings up an often forgotten point. No matter how much blogs like mine bring up the specific failures of the incumbent, what matters is whether more Ohioans feel things are going well for them and their neighbors..
And that’s the challenge for Kasich, Portman, et. al.
Cyclical economics suggests that we should have been easing out of the recession by now. Obviously, we haven’t, and experts suggest unemployment will lag in Ohio through the beginning of 2010. As I’ve explained before, the recovery in is taking much longer than it should.
But things will recover.
Will voters look at the uptick in the economy and forgive Ted Strickland all of his faults? Will they forget about the missed opportunities?
That’s where the challenge lies. Educating Ohio voters. Working against their short attention span.
It’s a long road. And we’re in it to win it.