Super Tuesday: What to Watch for in Ohio

My state is considered a vital GOP pickup this fall, as no Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio. Our midterm election’s results send mixed signals: a $40 million Big Labor smear campaign convinced Ohioans to overturn public union reform, but we also voted 66 - 34% to block Obamacare

Consistent with the whipsaw nature of this primary, polling mid-February suggested Ohio may be a lock for Rick Santorum. Quinnipiac registered a 7-point Santorum advantage in separate polls of likely voters completed 02/12 and 02/26. On 02/15, Rasmussen polling showed Santorum with a staggering 18-point lead, and the University of Cincinnati’s Ohio Poll conducted 02/16 to 02/26 indicated Saontorum was up by 11.

Heading into the February 22 Arizona debate, Santorum looked to be the last heir to the “not Romney” throne. Could he maintain enough momentum to roll Mitt Romney on Super Tuesday, despite Romney’s gold-plated ground game?

The debate was Santorum’s chance to shine, but he didn't weather attacks from Romney and Ron Paul as well as he could have. I’ve been enthusiastic about zero candidates since Rick Perry dropped out; the Arizona debate finally convinced me to vote for Mitt Romney. How many other Ohio conservatives had a similar reaction to the snippy, discouraging tussle between Romney and Santorum?

In many cases, it won’t matter: Rick Santorum’s name is not on the ballot in 3 of Ohio's 16 Congressional districts. Add to this news that Santorum failed to submit a full slate of delegates for 6 additional districts - including districts along the Pennsylvania border - and even a victory for Santorum in Ohio would be followed by an asterisk.

An NBC/Marist poll conducted yesterday shows a statistical dead heat. The in-inevitable Romney may yet win Ohio, in spite of himself and his campaign’s dicey consulting choices. Francesca Chambers at Red Alert Politics suggests Sen. Portman has buoyed Romney's ailing Ohio operation in the past week. It doesn’t hurt to have enough cash to account for 80% of the total TV ad spend in Super Tuesday contests, either!

Ohio’s employment picture is brightening, but economic issues remain a huge concern here. Will Ohio Republicans take a chance on the author of Romneycare, or the guy barraged with questions about birth control? Whoever wins Super Tuesday and the eventual nomination, November in Ohio should be a contest between uniquely American ideals and Obama’s ideal America.

Other races to watch:

  • Expect Josh Mandel - who is endorsed by Sen. DeMint and has already raised millions for November - to be the hands-down nominee for Sherrod Brown's U.S. Senate seat.
  • Ohio GOP State Central Committee races have been heated. The party's ugly power struggle continues, with Chairman Kevin DeWine's ability to work with Governor Kasich and others up for debate. If Kasich supporters win a majority of Committee seats and DeWine remains in charge, kinks in the Ohio GOP's inner workings could damage general election campaigns.

Don’t doubt Barack Obama can be beaten in Ohio. While Kasich’s approval ratings tick into positive territory, Obama remains underwater. The idea of papering over problems with “stimulus” spending may have overstayed its welcome. And remember, Obama for America must contend with the awful record of Sen. Brown, who flaunts Obama’s worst traits like a crazed Progressive peacock.


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