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  • Ohioblog: A Swing State Journal





    Sunday, September 05, 2004

    A swing state unthinkable: Ohio an inaccurate barometer? 

    This is the year a Republican could lose Ohio and win the White House. It has never happened, but it could in November, because Ohio's economic circumstances differ in fact and feel from the nation's.

    If nothing else became clear over the Labor Day weekend, as President Bush and challenger John Kerry dueled within spitting distance of each other, this much should have. Both Republicans and Democrats believe they must win Ohio's 20 electoral votes. That's understandable. Besides the fact that history tells Ohioans this, so do the people who are supposed to know elections. This would not include Dublin native Brendan McMahon, who drives horse-drawn carriages in New York City's Central Park.

    ``I follow the politics very closely but I didn't know Ohio is a swing state,'' McMahon told Laura A. Bischoff of the
    Dayton Daily News when she was in New York reporting on the Republican National Convention.

    Two days later, the politics McMahon follows so closely, found Bush in Broadview Heights and Kerry in Akron on the same morning, seeing the world, as they do, through different colored glasses.

    With the latest job numbers (144,000 jobs added in August) released Friday by the Department of Labor, President Bush concluded that Americans' economic future appears rosy while Kerry absorbed the same numbers and they filled him with a gray gloom.

    Republicans trumpet the creation of 1.7 million jobs in the past year, but do not talk about the type or pay. Democrats respond that the Bush administration promised two years ago that 6 million jobs would turn up before the president's first term ended and that Bush is now 7 million jobs short of that prediction. They compare the president to Herbert Hoover, the last president who lost more jobs than he produced.

    The difference between Hoover and Bush is that Hoover presided over The Great Depression's across the board job loss, and this year, as Democratic Vice President John Edwards and The New York Times' href="http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/05/weekinreview/05gree.html">Steven Greenhouse concurs, there are two Americas.

    ``The national job market is the sum of many regional job markets that have performed very differently,'' Mark Zandi, chief economomist at Economy.com, told Greenhouse. ``Some areas have struggled and continue to struggle,
    while others have thrived, and all this can cut very differently for the president candidates in different states.''

    President Bush acknowledged in Broadview Heights that Ohio has ``pockets of unemployment that are unacceptable.'' Meanwhile in Akron, Kerry found himself surrounded by 12,000 people, a number of whom had popped right out of one of those unacceptable pockets.

    For every Ohio and Michigan, where the economy is as much an issue as terrorism, there are golden pockets of prosperty. Florida, for instance. Remember Florida?

    So it is not unconceiveable that President Bush, who has href="http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/05/politics/campaign/05trail.html">assumed command of the race according to the recent polls, could parlay the nation's concern for safety with votes from those people who are doing well and win the election, perhaps even his first popular vote.

    As the 2000 election taught us, a candidate can win and not win. Democrat Al Gore defeated Bush by 500,000 votes and lost. According to an
    analysis
    by Rob Fournier of the Associated Press, the president currently holds a tenuous electoral college lead, 237 to 211 with 270 required to win. The winds could shift before Nov. 2, but if Bush could hang onto Florida, and take back Pennsylvania and perhaps Wisconsin, which are considered the his best possibilities, he might be able to afford to lose Ohio.

    Yet even in this scenario, Ohio remains important, regardless what our friend in the New York City carriage industry might believe.

    As Karl Rove, the president's top political adviser, href="http://www.salon.com/news/wire/2004/09/04/candidates_economy/index.html">told the Ohio delegation at the
    Republican National Convention: ``Whether you like it or not, Ohio is where it's at this election.''

    We like it. It gives us something besides football with which to amuse ourselves on fall weekends.

    - Steve Love


    posted by Ohioblog: A Swing State Journal at 1:53 PM



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