Boy, did they blow that one.
If you live in Ohio, by now you’ve probably seen Governor Strickland’s infamous Invacare ad.
In it, the wife of a former Invacare employee states Kasich is responsible for outsourcing her husband’s job out of the country in order to “profit”.
Based on the size and scope of the buy, as well as their staunch defense of the ad, the Strickland campaign clearly thought this ad was a silver bullet to John Kasich’s campaign.
Wow, were they wrong.
Since its release, the public panning of the ad has been constant and growing.
From the Plain Dealer:
Gov. Ted Strickland did neither this region nor his candidacy any favors with his unwarranted political rant against Invacare Corp., a solid corporate citizen that has been an anchor of new-economy jobs in Northeast Ohio and that has worked to promote the state for new business investment.
What was the governor thinking?
After spending much of his term trying to build credibility as a business-friendly Democrat, Strickland has — with one incredibly tone-deaf political ad — threatened to undermine those efforts and to reinforce stereotypes of Ohio as a place where populism and partisanship make for a dicey investment climate.
Additionally, Crain’s Cleveland Business posted their own editorial for all of Cleveland’s business community to see calling the ad a “backhand slap in the face” from the “home-state governor.”
The Strickland campaign’s defense of the ad? The ad doesn’t attack Invacare, it attacks Kasich for supporting outsourcing.
Strickland’s team could not have further missed the point.
That “outsourcing” is what saved the company and enabled it to stay viable and eventually grow.
Rather than damaging Kasich, the avalanche of blowback is instead providing the Republican an opportunity to highlight his business credentials.
And with a perfectly timed new positive ad, they are taking advantage of Strickland’s stumble:
So what’s next?
Well, with Kasich’s aggregate lead in all polls jumping to ten points, it’s pretty darn clear that whatever Ted is doing isn’t working:
If you’re on Ted’s campaign staff, those lines diverging sharply means you’ve really made a serious strategic error in some capacity. And with serious errors can come consequences. Will we start seeing some turnover in the Strickland campaign? It’s very possible.
What else? Well, a smart campaign would recognize the tired old negative attacks are clearly not working and would begin trying what I’ve recommended from the beginning – focus first on improving Ted’s disastrous approval numbers. Tell success stories. Or in this case, make them up.
That said, with the political environment unlikely to change in the next 57 days, Strickland’s team may decide to instead continue to run a scorched earth campaign and do whatever they can to drag down Kasich.
It won’t work. All the hits so far have only pushed voters towards the Republican and there is no indication the same message will resonate in any way.
All that said, it’s hard to imagine Ted’s poll numbers getting much worse. That means at some point there may be some sense of a rebound. The question is how the media will cover it. Will they try to push a “the Great Strickland comeback” story, or focus more on reality? The fact is, without a very serious development beyond the scope of the Governor’s race or a major Kasich stumble, this race is Kasich’s to win. Any Strickland rebound will either be too small or too temporary to make any substantive difference in the race.
As I’ve been saying since last year, this race has been and will continue to be about jobs, jobs, jobs. No matter what Strickland spouts, voters will care first and foremost about jobs.
Strickland never understood that. Kasich does.
And it will cost Ted in November.