Notwithstanding Ken Blackwell’s impressive win over state attorney general Jim Petro in yesterday’s Ohio Republican gubernatorial primary (56% to 44% with 94 % of precincts counted) , conventional wisdom among local media is that Blackwell has no chance against Democrat opponent, Ted Strickland.
Pundits point to a recent poll showing Strickland beating Blackwell by ten points among “frequent voters” as proof that Blackwell may as well concede right now. In fact, to say that voters are disgusted with the Ohio Republican Party is an understatement. Polls show Ohio voters preferring the generic Democrat candidate to his Republican counterpart by as much as fifteen points and nearly every news report about the upcoming general election describes Democrat voters as “energized” whereas Republicans are “dispirited”
The conventional wisdom overstates Democrat prospects for at least three reasons:
First, the media, thus far, has failed to note that the supposedly energized Dem base cast 70,000 fewer votes in the Dem gubernatorial primary than were cast by dispirited Republicans in the GOP primary. Some of the disparity may have been due to the more competitive GOP race, but this is hardly evidence of a morose Republican electorate sitting out the election. Moreover, the main reason the GOP primary was exciting is Ken Blackwell himself. The media and the state party elites may wish he’d go away, but he’s a rock star and he inspires intense loyalty among supporters.
Second, his candidacy will erode the monolithic support from black voters the Dem candidate traditionally enjoys. An uncomfortably, if not fatally, large number of blacks who voted in the Democrat primary will shift to Ken in the fall. It’s telling that neither Cleveland Cong. Stephanie Tubbs Jones nor Columbus Mayor Coleman have yet endorsed Strickland. They may do so before the general election, but it may be too late to slow the flow of sizeable black support to Ken, who has been campaigning hard among black voters for years.
Finally, the fact that Ken has a chance to become the first black Republican governor of a major state will make this contest the one to watch in 2006—and that inures to Ken’s benefit, if he runs the right campaign. His opponent is already just “the other guy”. Ken will have millions in free publicity to go along with the fact that he holds rock solid positions hated by the elite but embraced by the electorate. Both fiscal and social conservatives love him. And perhaps just as important, he has distanced himself from the state Republican establishment held in such low esteem by the voters ( his rival’s best tactic is to try to tie Ken to the state GOP).
Both parties know this is a race with implications beyond Ohio and beyond 2006.The pundits may have written ken off, but there’s a good probability he may surprise the herd.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Interesting Info from NRO's Sixers Blog
Kathryn Jean Lopez posted some analysis of Ken Blackwell's prospects on NRO's Sixers Blog today:
Posted by Phil Prenger at 5/03/2006 12:18:00 PM