Election News, Reporting from Ohio
By Fred Owens
First a little earthquakes news -- we report shaking but no damage in Santa Barbara. Longtime residents took it in stride. Newcomers like me got a little nervous.
Andy Boyer is a lifelong resident of Ohio and an astute political observer. Andy and I became friends in 2004 when we worked together on the John Kerry campaign. We toiled day and night for weeks on end, and talked and talked into the late hours and ate too much pizza. Kerry lost that campaign, as we all know, but I made some good friends and came to like the city of Columbus, Ohio.
I asked Andy to report from Ohio on the 2020 campaign. Here are my questions and his answers.
1. Who won Ohio in 2016 and why?
2. Ohio is important. Why?
3. Which candidate can win Ohio in 2020?
4. Are Biden and Harris enemies, or are they just sparring?
5. What else is on your mind on this topic?
6. And, briefly, a baseball forecast. Do the Indians have a chance?
You ask some tough questions and I don’t have all the answers. Trump won Ohio in 2016. It probably helped him that the Republican convention was held in Cleveland. It also hurt us, Democrats, that Hillary is someone that most voters had already formulated an opinion on long before she was a candidate for any office. One either loves her or hates her so that doesn’t leave a lot of room to win over swing voters. I honestly think there were many moderate conservatives searching for a reason to cross the aisle and vote for her but she never gave them the push they needed.
Ohio has accurately chosen the winner of the presidency in all but four occasions and has been correct for 56 years consecutive (Grover Cleveland 1884 & 1892, FDR 1944, and John Kennedy 1960). Why is this important, on the surface it seems coincidental? One reason is because Ohio’s population is reflective of the nation as a whole. Another is we have a lot of media markets. Instead of one mega city we have three semi big cities (Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati) and a handful of cities in the next tier (Toledo, Akron, Dayton). A candidate has to spend a lot of money in Ohio to be competitive because there are more markets to buy ads than in many other states. Many of these markets cross over into neighboring states (Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, West Virginia and Kentucky). So being competitive in Ohio allows one to begin competing in neighboring states as well. Then there is location. Ohio is within 600 miles of 60% of the entire U.S. population. How does a candidate reach the most voters? Stick close to where the majority lives. This allows an Ohioan to gather a good amount of information (or disinformation) prior to voting.
I prefer not to make predictions and my preference could change between now and the 2020 primary. I worry that the Democratic field is too large. It is allowing candidates to appeal to small constituency groups instead of forcing them to have a broad appeal to the party as a whole. The more moderate the candidate the more crossover appeal they will have with undecided voters in the general election. A nominee with narrow appeal would need a viable third party candidate that appeals to the Right in order to win. Too many primary candidates spreads out votes and leaves us with a nominee that is only representative of the largest constituency group and less appealing to the population as a whole.
Kamala Harris was being savvy in her attack of Joe Biden to give herself a chance but the accusation doesn’t hold. Biden was honored by the Congressional Black Caucus for a lifetime commitment to civil rights. She’s picking a fight with her ally. That works at the moment because there is a primary candidate for nearly every special interest. It allows her to appeal to hers but would hurt her once she needs a broader appeal. Currently Biden has the most broad appeal followed by Harris. If either was the nominee the other would endorse. We need to stop fighting over the small stuff and pound home what all Americans care about: JOBS, JOBS, JOBS and WORKERS RIGHTS! And I’m not talking about hairstyles in the workplace but rather minimum wage, healthcare and benefits. For this reason a Tim Ryan or Sherrod Brown type would be the best choice for VP regardless of who wins the nomination. James Carville got it right when he said, “It’s the economy, stupid!”
Clearly more important than politics is baseball as we approach the Allstar break. This year the midsummer classic returns to Cleveland and we are excited to host once again. Cleveland has been devastated by injuries early on this season but we keep hanging on. With our manager Terry “Tito” Francona we always have a shot. If we can get healthy down the stretch then we can make a run. I honestly think Frankie Lindor is the best player in baseball but I’m more than a little biased.
Thanks, Andy. Let's stay in touch.