Why Mitt Romney Is Losing Ohio
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Improvements in Ohio undermine Romney's attempts to blame Obama for the stagnant national economy, and he doesn't want to associate too closely with Kasich, who may not be the country's least popular governor anymore but still only has 41 percent approval ratings. He could, like Mandel, double down on opposing the auto bailout and try to pretend that he has workers' best interests at heart, but after the recent airing of video showing his contempt for the working class, that doesn't seem to be a winning strategy.
It All Comes Down to Turnout: Voting Issues and Ohio
If there's one thing Ohio progressives learned in 2004, it's never to take an election win for granted. It's not just the millions upon millions being poured in by outside groups to snag a Senate seat and try to swing the Presidential race in Ohio—it's also dirty tricks designed to restrict access to voting itself.
As We Are Ohio's website explained, Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted is at the center of the scandal around voter restriction in the state. “Husted was embroiled in a scandal that attracted national attention when he moved to close down voting on weekends and evenings in urban counties while voting to expand hours in rural and suburban counties.” The voter restriction efforts, they note, date back to the fight to repeal Senate Bill 5:
“Kasich and these extreme politicians thought they could stop us from vetoing SB 5 if they lowered voter turnout. They quickly passed HB 294 that reduced the amount of early voting opportunities on weekends and evenings and limited the period for absentee voting.”
Though politicians now claim HB 294 has been repealed, We Are Ohio noted that Husted still attempted to narrow early voting hours, and even attempted to ignore a federal judge's ruling that said he had to allow early in-person voting on the weekend before the election. The site also warns against “outside groups” trying to suppress the vote in person.
The state expects record early voting turnout this year, and Ohio organizers are determined not to let voter suppression tactics work. “I think that you have to fight with what you can win on, which is pushing back on the Secretary of State where you can,” Brian Rothenberg said. “At some point we're going to just have to deal with turnout. Back in the day when I ran campaigns, it didn't matter what they put in front of you, at some point we have to figure out how to have turnout no matter what the rules are.”
And the voters seem to understand the stakes, according to Deb Steele, who's been going door to door, reaching out to health care workers and registering voters. “It's a smoother ask, and people get it. They get that we're being played with, and that it's going to come down to every vote.”
Unions and the We Are Ohio coalition, labor-affiliated groups like Working America, as well as other progressive groups, women's groups like Planned Parenthood, and more will be running a ground campaign alongside Obama's get-out-the-vote effort and those of other Democrats. Ohioans know that everyone is watching them, watching their polls and their ads, their voting hours and early turnout numbers.
“Being in a swing state, we get inundated with enormous politics. It's kind of hard to breathe some days knowing how important Ohio is,” Deb Steele said. “In 2004 I know it was stolen here, but it doesn't mean we give up, it means you have to win by bigger margins, it means you have to prove how they stole it, it means 'Look these bastards are restricting voting hours, that's a dare.'”