Wednesday, August 03, 2005

OH 2, Continued

In November 2004, George Bush carried Ohio by a margin of 118,601 votes over John Kerry. Of those votes, 92,350 or 78% came from the 2nd congressional district. Needless to say, had John Kerry run this well in Ohio, he would be president right now.

The real question is the extent to which yesterday's results are a bellweather for other races next year. My guess is that it less of bellweather than many Democrats want to admit. First, this was an open seat and those races are usually closer than when an incumbent is running. Given that, a quality Democratic challenger was almost certain to improve on the results of the last House race in the district and probably likely to improve on Kerry's performance. In addition, the Ohio Republican party is deeply unpopular right now and that's not likely to be the case in many or any other states next year. Finally, there are only so many attractive Marine veterans of Iraq who will want to run as Democrats next year.

On the other hand, this race is much more of a bellweather than Republicans will want to admit publicly. Putting aside all of the local and particular factors, this was a huge swing against the Republicans in a very safe seat--the equivalent of the Republicans breaking even in Henry Waxman's (66% for Kerry) or Barney Frank's (65% for Kerry) district. Overall, if I were a Republican political strategist, I would be very worried about what's in store for next year. Look for these other early indicators:

1. Candidate recruitment: Will the Dems be able to start lining up good candidates for open seats and to take on potentially vulnerable Republicans? Conversely, will the Republicans start seeing their strong candidates take a pass?

2. Retirements: Will incumbent Republicans sensing vulnerability suddenly decided that they would like "spend more time with their family"?

3. Fundraising: Will Democratic challengers be able to raise enough early money to make or keep their races competitive? Will Republican incumbents start stocking up on funds to secure themselves, but leaving little money for their party's challengers?

4. Reverse Coattails: Will Republicans start to find ways to distance themselves from Bush as they perceive him as more of a drag than a help to their campaigns? As the races heat up, will they have Bush come and campaign with them? Will they start pushing Bush to speed up the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq?

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