May 23, 2006

Blackwell vs. Strickland

Adam Schaeffer's 2-part RCP article on the Ohio Governor's race between Republican Ken Blackwell and Democrat Ted Strickland concludes that Mr. Blackwell will be the victor come November. From Part One

Many pundits still think Blackwell's true-believer brand of conservatism will be his downfall in a presidential swing state fully fed up with Republicans running the show. But Ohio voters are disgusted with Republican hypocrites, not conservative principles. Blackwell has made a career and many enemies by decrying the degenerate state of his own Party. His primary campaign was a prolonged attack on the same "culture of corruption" that Democrats in general and Strickland's campaign believe will be their route to easy victory. What on earth is Strickland to do when his attacks on Ohio Republicans are met with hearty agreement from his opponent, followed by credible conservative solutions? Both candidates will run as reformers who will clean up and invigorate Ohio--Blackwell will propose to do the same for the Republican Party as its leader.

And despite the fact that Democrats are energized by the smell of "blood in the water" due to undeniable Republican mismanagement of the state, Schaeffer wonders how much of the angry, leftist Democratic base will turn out to vote for a pro-gun, religious moderate in Strickland in a midterm election in which rank-and-file turnout also figures to be traditionally low.

In Part Two, Schaffer evaluates the potential effects of race, party and turnout on the Blackwell-Strickland matchup, and according to him, race could have an effect on turnout:

Ohio's black vote in 2004 came in at just over 900,000 votes out of about 5.5 million according to Census Bureau estimates. Turnout was unusually high in this vital presidential swing state, and may drop as much as 20 percent for the midterm election this November. Research that I've conducted on the turnout effects of black-targeted Republican advertising suggests that Party competition for the black vote can seriously decrease black Democratic turnout--a phenomenon that is perhaps largely responsible for much of the Republican gain in vote percentage where a candidate puts in the effort...

...Blackwell can seize a large portion of the black vote and demobilize the black Democratic base, many of whom will be reluctant to turn out for a conservative white Democrat and vote against a black candidate.

Schaeffer thinks it's a done deal for Blackwell. I think he underestimates the current antipathy in this state for all things Republican, especially on the part of Republicans. A combination of low turnout and Blackwell's ability to get a significant share of the black vote may do it, but disgust and anger among conservatives can have the same depressing effect on turnout that apathy and lack of enthusiasm about their candidate can have on the Democrats.

I'm supporting Blackwell mostly on the basis of his positions on spending and fiscal restraint, and his receptivity to school choice initiatives. l have not heard much from Strickland yet, to get an idea of what kind of communicator he is, or what his leadership skills look like, but I do know that Blackwell seems to possess these qualities in abundance. I hope he can overcome the bad case of Taftitis that currently afflicts the state, and then get on with the business of treating it.

Posted by dan at May 23, 2006 11:46 PM