May 3, 2006

Well, What Have We Learned from Ohio’s 2006 Primary?

Filed under: OH-02 US House,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:42 pm

NOTE: This post originally appeared at 1:00 a.m. and will stay at the top for the rest of the day.
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Linkovers, 10:30 a.m. — Welcome to readers of ABC’s “The Note”, and to Right Angle Blog, whose coverage of Ohio center-right politics is second to none. 4:30 p.m. — Also linking over — OH02, Buckeye State Blog. 8:30 p.m.Right on the Right, Club for Growth.
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You can tell by this list that even though I got one thing I really wanted (a McEwen loss), didn’t get another one (a Pierce win), and got a couple of consolation prizes (Sandy O’Brien’s win for Treasurer, plus another one that’s too parochial to be relevant to this blog’s readers), I didn’t consider it a particularly good night.

Even though numbered, these points are in no particular order. We have learned in 2006′s primary election and the campaign that preceded it:

  1. That the “Christian Right” can be taken in by clever messengers who say the right things and are successful at not revealing their true selves. Yes, that goes for David Smith and Bob McEwen. Yes, that makes me hesitant to jump up and down for joy about Ken Blackwell, because I believe his close alignment with the Ohio Restoration Project is causing an ugly strain of condescension and a bit of a detachment from reality to emerge in him, and I never thought I’d say either thing (though I will vote for him, given the alternative).
  2. That you can pick up a lot of votes by hiding your resume, by creating name recognition through illegal campaign sign placement, and by making up poll numbers and convincing people they’re real — enough to enable you to garner a few thousand more votes than a more principled candidate in an otherwise similar situation. Wow, Mr. Smith, I’m sooooo impressed — y’all got real close to that 29% you were touting to your gullible Christian friends, didn’t you? Update: And that 41% for DeWine was really close too, wasn’t it? Your made-up poll showed your guy within 12, and he lost by 57.
  3. That the state GOP cares more about protecting its incumbents than the party’s principles, and will do anything on behalf of the former even if it sells out most of the latter.
  4. That a knock-down, drag-out, no-limits campaign of personal destruction against an average candidate could succeed in the right circumstances (luckily, the Second District congressional race wasn’t one of them).
  5. That there is widespread discontent with the establishments of both parties. Two candidates with little money took about 29% 28.2% of the vote from Senate incumbent Mike Dewine. One candidate probably would have taken about 10% more, but voters who had never heard of Bill Pierce or David Smith most likely decided to stay with the devil they knew once they saw two alternatives instead of one. On the Democrat side, Merrill Keiser took an astounding 23% or so 22% from Sherrod Brown. I’m not even going to attempt to describe his politics because I’m not sure I can stay civil while doing so. I’m guessing he got about 50% of his vote from people still angry about Paul Hackett being forced out of the race and the other 50% from traditional blue-collar Democrats unhappy with Brown’s far-left views.
  6. That the establishments of both parties don’t care about that widespread discontent, and seem to be doing everything they can to discourage their principled members. On the left, we had the betrayal of Paul Hackett by the Washington Democrat establishment, and on the right we have the stubborn clinging to failed Taft-era thinking.
  7. That both party establishments expect their faithful to nevertheless dutifully vote for their mediocre candidates, no matter the cost in principles sold down the river.
  8. That both parties will be stunned at the apathy in this fall’s Ohio Senate race. I can tell you that Mike DeWine will be shocked by the number of non-votes from conservatives who believe in the Second Amendment, and I can also tell you that there are many Paul Hackett fans who will not under any circumstance vote for Sherrod Brown.
  9. That electoral turnouts will continue to trend downward because of Items 5 through 8. One example: At this hour it looks like the number of votes in the 2006 GOP Senatorial primary will be about 800,000 was about 770,000, about 180,000 fewer than 12 years ago. Here’s another: Total turnout (based on the combined governor’s race totals) looks like it will be about 300,000 less than the 1.9 million originally estimated, or a miserable 21% of registered voters. Update: The Gov race totals are about 1.6 million, but total turnout was 1.8 million. This means that a stunning (to me) 11% or over 200,000 voters said “none of the above” to all of the gubernatorial candidates, and over 300,000 (17%) did not cast a vote for any US Senate candidate. Apathy anyone? Or is it antagonism?
  10. That at least on the Republican side, a statewide campaign strategy of wearing out shoe leather meeting with party loyalists combined with online blog and other support is not ready for prime time. Memo to George Voinovich: Perhaps by 2010 it will be. For starters, imagine an opponent who can do daily videos like those Michelle Malkin is doing at Hot Air and who figures out a way to call attention to them. (I still think, with his name recognition, that Paul Hackett might have made a similar low-budget strategy work after his national party betrayal, but the thought of attempting it apparently never even occurred to him.)
  11. That the WORMs (Worn-Out Reactionary Media, known to most as The Mainstream Media) will studiously ignore challengers to incumbents, even when those challengers draw blood on the campaign trail. Is it laziness, or is there more to it than that? I don’t know.
  12. That incumbents and the parties that front them will continue their go-along, get-along ways until voters get motivated enough to change things.

I’m just relieved that I won’t be dealing with electoral politics heavily for at least the next five months or so.
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UPDATE: A bonus lesson, and a definitely favorable trend — The Club for Growth (CFG) has become a force to be reckoned with. The 4th District GOP Congressional Primary was considered close, but despite the large amount of personal money the second-place finisher put into the race, Club-endorsed Jim Jordan won going away by 20 points. We need more of this. As long as the fundamentalists in the party continue to prove that they have awful political instincts (see David Smith and Bob McEwen), pro-growth and pro-prosperity groups like CFG will need to hone theirs (as they have) and gain more clout to counter them.

UPDATE 2: Tim Russo on the other side of the aisle agrees on what has been learned, especially about both party establishments.

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7 Comments

  1. [...] y 2006
    Agreed
    Posted by Editor under General 

    I agree with Tim Russo. This is a good rant by BizzyBlog.

     
    Leave a Reply You must be l [...]

    Pingback by Ohio 2nd Blog » Agreed — May 3, 2006 @ 2:24 pm

  2. [...] d he’s facing a tough opponent, Ted Strickland. More coverage on that later…. BizzyBlog has fantastic coverage: That you can pick up a lot of votes by hiding your resume, by creating name r [...]

    Pingback by Right on the Right » Blog Archive » Ohio Primaries Rundown — May 3, 2006 @ 5:17 pm

  3. “That a knock-down, drag-out, no-limits campaign of personal destruction against an average candidate could succeed in the right circumstances (luckily, the Second District congressional race wasn’t one of them).”

    But, unluckily, the 13th was.

    “I can also tell you that there are many Paul Hackett fans who will not under any circumstance vote for Sherrod Brown.

    Yeah, I know a few of them, up here in Congressman Brown’s back yard, no less.

    “That at least on the Republican side, a statewide campaign strategy of wearing out shoe leather meeting with party loyalists combined with online blog and other support is not ready for prime time.”

    It isn’t on the Democratic side, either. Look at what happended to Subodh Chandra.

    “a stunning (to me) 11% or over 200,000 voters said “none of the above” to all of the gubernatorial candidates, and over 300,000 (17%) did not cast a vote for any US Senate candidate. Apathy anyone? Or is it antagonism?”

    Probably some of both, along with independent voters who wanted to vote on tax issues without declaring a party.

    Comment by Jason S. — May 3, 2006 @ 10:58 pm

  4. #3, I’ll agree that your last factor was relevant, but I believe minor. We didn’t have any issues on the ballot, though I know some school districts did. One of these decades, I might study the no-vote trend. I think it’s up from the past, but haven’t proven it.

    Comment by TBlumer — May 3, 2006 @ 11:11 pm

  5. I hate to say it, but more people who didnt back Brown will vote for him than the folks who didnt vote for DeWine this time will vote for him in Nov. I would also say that 50% voted against Brown based on the Hackett force out. They got it out of their system and will be more likely to come back in Nov. The Pierce supporters seem so mad that they wont do the same. Hopefully that wont make the difference.

    Comment by Ben Keeler — May 4, 2006 @ 1:35 am

  6. #5, I would suggest that cold reality is setting in, and that DeWine doesn’t have to worry as much about Pierce supporters per se as he does about the 2nd Amendment folks who voted for Pierce or Smith, who have no one they can support.

    Comment by TBlumer — May 4, 2006 @ 1:44 am

  7. [...] the margin that Jean Schmidt needed for her win in the 2nd district. Also see Biz’s rant for much more on this, especially about what we’ve learned about the party establishment. Filed [...]

    Pingback by NixGuy.com » Pierce DeWine Recap — May 4, 2006 @ 8:04 am

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