Katie Glueck of Politico writes that “Donald Trump is at war with Gov. John Kasich and the state GOP. Even so, he has a good chance of capturing Ohio’s 18 electoral votes.”
CLEVELAND— Donald Trump is at war with the state party, started organizing late and his support in traditional Republican enclaves here is shaky.
But the GOP nominee still has a good shot at winning Ohio, where five of the last eight public polls show him in a dead heat with Hillary Clinton. The reason, political operatives on both sides acknowledge, is that his message is resonating in some traditionally Democratic strongholds.
“He’s doing well because he’s in Democratic areas,” said Bob Clegg, a veteran Ohio Republican operative, referring to visits like his recent event in Toledo. “He’s getting more than the normal votes for a Republican in very Democratic areas. I think that’s what’s doing it.”
“The question we have is to make sure we don’t have people that drift into what historically might be referred to as Reagan Democrats,” said Stuart Garson, the chairman of the Cleveland-based Cuyahoga County Democratic Party. “Make sure they understand who really has their best interests at heart.”
In typical Trump fashion, however, there is a catch. He continues to alienate GOP state party leadership, making his chances ever more reliant on the risky bet that enough disillusioned white Democrats and independents will back him to compensate for his under-performance with more centrist Republicans, as well as for Hillary Clinton’s advantages in field organization.
Given the Trump campaign’s open feud with the Ohio GOP that unfolded two weeks ago at the Republican National Convention —his campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, accused popular GOP Gov. John Kasich of “embarrassing his state” for skipping Trump’s Cleveland convention and withholding an endorsement– veteran operatives say much of Trump’s current strength in Ohio comes from people who would typically never pull the Republican lever.
Trump has so far shown some promise in the eastern and southeastern portions of Ohio, home to blue-collar towns and coal mining hubs considered part of Appalachia, where Clinton’s pledge to put coal miners “out of business” still stings (she quickly apologized for the remark, noting that she meant that she wanted to create more sustainable jobs in the region, but Republicans are using it as a wedge).
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