Ohio's gubernatorial race is amazingly close, with alternative polls providing alternative views as to which candidate, incumbent Ted Strickland or challenger John Kasich, leads.
On the one hand, this is no surprise, given Ohio's recent political history. On the other hand, it's a big surprise when one considers the national anti-incumbent mood, the unpopularity of every nationally visible Democrat, Strickland's own rapidly-rising disapproval numbers, and the miserable economic conditions in Ohio, all of which should have the colorless and clueless Strickland deep in the 30-percents.
What keeps afloat the man most famous for awkward nodding while Hillary Clinton derided BHO's lack of experience?
We figure two things, one of which may make the difference in November.
The economic and political landscape of Ohio continues to be polluted with the outsized influence of labor unions committed to the kind of economic inefficiency that retards the state's economic prosperity. That these groups are powerful in Ohio and hugely active politically, especially since 2006, is no big secret. Ohio's old manufacturing areas don't know it, but these unions are now playing on their historic loyalty to push for a new unionized economy, focused on government jobs of the kind that now comprise the majority of those held by union-represented workers. Unions are the paymasters of Democrats, especially in Ohio.
We happen to think that the non-union strongholds of Ohio--Columbus, Cincinnati, and rural areas--can offset union bastions like Cleveland, Toledo, Dayton, and Akron-Canton-Massillon, just as they have in the past. Strickland's distinct edge comes from elsewhere.
Two weeks ago the National Rifle Association endorsed Democrat Ted Strickland. Those with an ear to the ground in Ohio weren't surprised: the NRA has been badmouthing John Kasich for years, thanks to his willingness in Congress to vote in favor of certain bills supported by the NRA. Strickland, who rose through the ranks in an utterly rural congressional district, has cultivated a 100% rating from the gun guys.
And Ohio's gun enthusiasts are listening. We are well acquainted with an Ohio family, utterly devoted to Tea Party dogma, but utterly opposed to Kasich precisely because he is "opposed to the Second Amendment." We're not sure how peoople with more firearms in their house than the SWNIDs have tablespoons believes that the right to keep and bear arms is threatened, but we've never credited people for much rationality where their fears are concerned.
So if in two years Ohioans are still watching the governor insist that higher taxes are the best way to ensure the state's economic growth, you'll know who to thank.