Tag Archives: Ohio

Election Day Outlook

Voters in many states go to the polls tomorrow to fill municipal offices and, in a pair of instances, statewide positions and legislatures. Kentucky and Mississippi will elect governors. Virginia’s Senate elections will have a major effect upon that state’s congressional redistricting plan, scheduled to be drawn in the new legislative session beginning in January.

In the Blue Grass State, Gov. Steve Beshear (D) is headed for a landslide re-election, as polls show him consistently above 50 percent and more than 20 points in front of state Senate President David Williams. The Democrats are in position to capture all statewide offices there.

To the south, the Republicans are likely to sweep the political board in Mississippi, with the exception of the race for attorney general, as Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant (R) is poised to win a big victory against Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree (D).

In the Virginia Senate, Democrats hold a 22-18 majority. Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) is only at the mid-point of his single term in office, therefore he is not on the ballot tomorrow. The 100-member state House of Delegates will remain safely in GOP hands. The state Senate redistricting plan is what the Democratic leadership wanted, but it still appears the GOP has a chance to reclaim the majority. Since the Republicans control the lieutenant governor’s office, losing just two net seats will cost the Democrats their power position and give the GOP full control of the state government. Under the Commonwealth’s constitution, the lieutenant governor, in this case Republican Bill Bolling, would cast any tie-breaking vote. Several seats are in play making such a scenario a strong possibility.

Ohio voters will have a chance to affirm Gov. John Kasich’s (R) legislative initiative to curtail public employee collective bargaining rights and a significant reduction in benefits. Polls indicate the pro-referendum group has the advantage going into the election.

Turning to the west, one U.S. House congressional vacancy will take a step toward fulfillment tomorrow in Oregon as each party will choose nominees to replace resigned Rep. David Wu (D-OR-1). On the Democratic side, late polling gives state Sen. Susan Bonamici a wide lead over state Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian and state Rep. Brad Witt. Rob Cornilles, the 2010 GOP candidate who lost to Wu 42-55 percent, is the prohibitive favorite for the Republicans. The special general election will be held Jan. 31, with tomorrow’s Democratic winner assuming the favorite’s track to win the seat.

Tomorrow will bring us some answers and allow us to ask new questions, one of which will undoubtedly pertain to what effect, if any, the votes cast tomorrow will have on the 2012 election. It is already clear that parallels will be drawn.

The Ohio Senate Race Tightens

For months, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) has enjoyed close to a 20-point lead against all potential 2012 Republican challengers. A new Public Policy Polling survey (Oct. 13-16; 581 registered Ohio voters) now shows that Brown’s margin has suddenly regressed into single digits. According to the data, the senator leads GOP state Treasurer Josh Mandel 48-40 percent, a loss of seven points from the previous PPP poll conducted in August. Mandel has closed the gap despite his poor 12:21 percent favorable to unfavorable personal popularity rating. Sen. Brown’s job approval ratio has dropped to 40:35 percent positive to negative.

Up until recently, the Ohio senate race had been a disappointment for the Republicans. Failing to convince a more senior party office holder to enter what should be a competitive race against Sen. Brown, who was originally elected in 2006, the GOP may be moving this race back into the top tier. Mr. Mandel, only 34 years of age, was just elected state treasurer last November. He has impressively raised $3.8 million for the Senate race according to the latest financial disclosure (Sept. 30, 2011) and has $3.2 million cash-on-hand. Sen. Brown has raised $4.1 million and has an equivalent amount in his campaign account.

Because of the competitive political nature in the state, this race was destined to tighten, but the fact that a major movement was made this early suggests the campaign could quickly become seriously contested. Much more will happen here in the coming year.

The Cain Surge

Two days ago we covered presidential candidate Herman Cain’s climb to overcome even President Obama in the latest Rasmussen Reports national survey (43-41 percent; Oct. 14-15; 1,000 likely voters), but now even more data is coming up roses for the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO. A series of new Public Policy Polling Republican primary surveys shows him not only leading the GOP race nationally, but he now places first in six different states. Our premise in the last piece was that even if Mr. Cain continues to poll well, his lack of financial support could still leave him on the outside looking in. Such analysis may in fact prove correct, but these new results certainly give one reason for pause.

According to PPP, Cain has substantial leads over Mitt Romney in Hawaii, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia. His highest plateau is attaining 36 percent in Hawaii. His biggest spread over Romney is 15 points in delegate-rich Ohio, also a critical swing state in the general election. The other surprise mover, as we also noted on Tuesday, is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Without an organization or strong financial backing, it is Gingrich who is now placing second in three states; tied with Romney in North Carolina, and surpassing everyone but Cain in Nebraska and West Virginia. Even nationally, at least according to the PPP findings, Gingrich has captured third place, with 14 percent, equal to or better than when he started the race. On the other end of the spectrum: Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry have dropped all the way down to mid-single digits.

This race has a long way to go, but already the wild twists and turns have been enough for an entire campaign. What can come next?

Ohio Democrats: Somthing’s Got To Give

Ohio will again be one of the most important states with regard to the upcoming congressional elections.

There may be a record number of Ohio re-runs in 2012. Ex-Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-OH-6), who was defeated 45-50 percent by freshman Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH-6), has filed a congressional exploratory committee for the purposes of seeking a re-match. The race will occur in the newly created far eastern Ohio 6th District, which is less Democratic than the seat that Mr. Wilson held for two terms, but is still very competitive, particularly in a presidential election year.

Under the new Ohio map that has two fewer seats than in the previous decade, there is a logjam of defeated Democratic representatives looking to run again. In addition to Wilson, former eastern Ohio representatives John Boccieri (D-OH-16) and Zack Space (D-OH-18) are at least considering running in 2012. Also, don’t forget gadfly former Rep. Jim Traficant (D/I-OH-17), either. Traficant represented the Youngstown seat for nine terms before being expelled and forced to serve a seven-year prison sentence for accepting bribes and related crimes. He has also not ruled out running next year but, even if he does, it will be as a minor Independent candidate. Add current representatives Betty Sutton (D-OH-13) and Tim Ryan (D-OH-17) to the equation and you have five strong candidates forced to vie for only four seats.

Boccieri could be the swing man in this scenario and will likely face a major Democratic primary wherever he might decide to run. His old 16th District touches the new 6th, 7th, 13th, and 16th CDs. If he wants a shot at the man who defeated him last year (41-52 percent), freshman GOP Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH-16), he will likely have to wrest the Democratic nomination away from Rep. Sutton, whose current district is now also spread among several new seats. The most logical place for her to run is in District 16, against Renacci. A tough, divisive Democratic primary between Boccieri and Sutton, however, would certainly give the Republican a huge advantage in the general election, an edge that in and of itself might be enough to make the ultimate difference.

Boccieri could also run in District 6 against Rep. Johnson, but now he’ll have to oppose Mr. Wilson in the primary. He could also dip to the south and challenge freshman Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH-18) in the new 7th District, but there he would likely draw former Rep. Space, who lost 40-54 percent to Gibbs. Lastly, he could theoretically challenge incumbent Rep. Ryan in the new 13th District, but such a move is highly unlikely to occur.

But Ms. Sutton is the area’s sitting incumbent with major problems. With downtown Akron now in the new Cleveland-dominated 11th District, she could conceivably challenge fellow Democratic Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH-11) but, another elected official, state Sen. Nina Turner, is already in that race. Under the theory that the two African-American candidates could split the majority demographic voter base, Rep. Sutton’s entry in the race could allow her to construct an alternative Democratic coalition and take advantage of the split between the two candidates. Ms. Sutton is unlikely to choose this option, however.

Most of the Akron congresswoman’s current 13th CD is in the new 16th, meaning taking the aforementioned general election incumbent pairing with Renacci, or hopping over into the Youngstown seat to challenge Rep. Ryan in the party primary. Finally, her last option would be to move south and seek a confrontation with Gibbs, but there she would likely have to face Space first.

Though the Ohio Democratic candidate pool appears deep for 2012, the inevitable intra-party fights will weaken their standing in several of these central-east Buckeye State seats.

Weekly Redistricting Roundup

Redistricting action occurred in the following six states during the past week:

MAINE (current delegation: 2D) – Gov. Paul LePage (R) signed the compromise congressional map that makes only minimal changes in the existing plan. The city of Waterville switches to the 1st District from the 2nd, and other cosmetic changes comprise the recorded alterations. Even though Republicans control the entire legislative process, redistricting legislation requires a two-thirds vote of both chambers. Therefore, the “no-change compromise” map was adopted to avoid a protracted court battle. Democrats will retain both seats.

MARYLAND (current delegation: 6D-2R) – As we move closer to seeing a map proposal coming from the Democratically controlled legislature, rumors continue to fly. Last week, it appeared that the Dem leaders were going to carve up Rep. Roscoe Bartlett’s (R) 6th District but allow the GOP 1st District to stand. Now, it seems an effort is being made to draw an 8D-0R map, which means breaking up both Republican seats into multiple parts. Though the Eastern Shore would reportedly remain intact in CD 1, more Democratic Western Shore areas in and around the Annapolis area will be added. The proposed plan will soon be made public. Democrats control the entire process, so it is likely they will try for the 8-0 sweep.

NEW YORK (current delegation: 21D-8R; loses two seats) – Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has repeatedly said he would only sign a redistricting plan that was developed by an independent commission that he wanted the legislature to create. Now, he is sending signals that he would be open to a bi-partisan legislative compromise. He made statements to the media this week that he feels a court-drawn map would not be in the common interest of the New York citizenry. Expect the New York map to be one of the last enacted plans.

OHIO (current delegation: 13R-5D; loses two seats) – Gov. John Kasich (R) signed the legislation creating the new congressional redistricting plan. The map is designed to elect 12 Republicans and four Democrats, creating a new Columbus D seat and pairing the remaining minority party members together. Republicans Mike Turner (R-OH-3) and Steve Austria (R-OH-7) are also paired in the new 10th District. Ohio is now the 20th state to enact its congressional redistricting plan.

Fifteen maps are now law, with five more still before the Justice Department awaiting preclearance. Another four states await court action as their legislative process resulted in deadlock. The five remaining independent commissions will likely complete their combined work by early next year at the latest. So will at least two other states. This leaves a dozen late primary states to complete their processes next year. Congressional redistricting must occur in the 43 states that have more than one seat in the House of Representatives.

TEXAS (current delegation: 23R-9D; gains four seats) – As predicted by many, the new Texas congressional and state House maps will not likely pass the legal test. The San Antonio court hearing the consolidated lawsuits just indicated that it will draw an interim map while the legal process continues. This means a different map than enacted will now almost assuredly be inserted for the 2012 elections. The court has asked all parties to make their submissions for a replacement map by October 17th. The 2012 candidate filing period for the March primary begins on Nov. 17, so a new 36-district plan must be in place by at least that time. The Republican-enacted map appears to be a 26R-10D map.

Expect the court to draw a plan more favorable to the Democrats. Texas by-passed the Department of Justice and filed their preclearance submission with the District of Columbia Federal District Court. Since no decision has yet been rendered, the entire map can be re-drawn by the court of jurisdiction and not just the legally affected regions. Lawsuits were originally filed on minority group issues in and around the San Antonio-Austin area.

UTAH (current delegation: 2R-1D; gains one seat) – The appointed redistricting committee passed a plan to be considered in the special legislative beginning this week in Salt Lake City. The committee developed a map that could easily give the GOP a 4-0 sweep of the next delegation, a group that reapportionment increases by one member from its current three-seat configuration. Apparently Gov. Gary Herbert (R) is not particularly receptive to this plan, however, as he has made public statements reiterating his desire for a “fair” plan. Most interpret his statements to mean that he does not consider the legislative starting point to be acceptable.

His motives may not be purely altruistic, however. Without a district in which to run, Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT-2), a long-time proven vote-getter in an overwhelmingly Republican congressional district during the last decade, would then be free to run statewide. The congressman says he will be on the 2012 ballot, but he has yet to decide for which office. He has not ruled out a run against Herbert or opposing Sen. Orrin Hatch (R). In reacting to the new map, Matheson was quoted as saying he could run in the new 2nd District or even in the new 4th CD, which is designed to occupy part of the Salt Lake City region in the center of the state. The Utah plan, with its many political sub-plots, continues to be one of the more interesting situations to observe. Expect the process to culminate within the next two weeks.