We hereby offer a word of caution about prognostications concerning the upcoming election. The basis of our warning is our use of a vitally important but wholly unscientific political indicator, one that we fancy is of our own making, though we are sure that someone else thought of it first.
We call it the Personal Political Endorsement Scale, or PPES. In sum, this scale measures the number of political yard signs, bumper stickers and buttons that voters display. Lots of these indicate lots of interest in the election. Few of these indicate little interest.
The SWNIDish neighborhood is considered a bellwether for Cincinnati politics, as its demographics match almost exactly those of the city as a whole. One generally sees signs and stickers for candidates of both parties at all levels in many yards and on many cars.
And we see virtually none these days. There's one yard in the neighborhood with a Blackwell sign (not the SWNID household, we are ashamed to say), and one with signs for the entire Democrat ticket (a house that always displays multiple signs for the Ds, and it's not the mayor's). Otherwise, there's nothing. "For sale" signs vastly outnumber political signs, and there aren't that many houses for sale, either.
We see the same around Our Fair City. Usually in Cincinnati, yard signs sprout like dandelions. But there are few to none compared to the typical crop. The same can be said for bumper stickers. There are more leftover 2004 stickers (the only thing preserving public memory of John Edwards, by the way) than current ones.
So the PPES is low. And low PPES means low interest in the election among voters.
And that's not surprising. First, the party in power looks tired and maybe a little creepy, but the party out of power looks incompetent. That hardly inspires voters. Then, advertising is so uniformly and predictably negative (thank you, McCain-Feingold, for cleaning up our campaigns), who but the rabidly committed would want to vote for either party's candidates?
So, remembering that 2004 had a remarkably high turnout, we predict a low turnout for 2006.
And that means that everything will depend on which side gets more of their folks out to vote.
The "ground war," as the professionals like to call it, will decide this one.
You heard it here first.