Public polling underscores the political difficulty for Republicans, particularly DeWine and gubernatorial candidate J. Kenneth Blackwell. A New York Times/CBS News survey reported that 70 percent of Ohioans surveyed said the state and the nation were on the wrong track. Nearly two-thirds rated the economy as bad, suggesting more anxiety about jobs and pocketbook issues than elsewhere in the country. Sixty percent disapprove of Bush's handling of the war.
For more than a decade, Ohio was the place where Democratic dreams went to die.
Now, in the state that sealed President Bush's 2004 re-election, even Republicans concede Rep. Ted Strickland is on track to become the first Democratic governor in 16 years. At the same time, Rep. Sherrod Brown has clawed his way to a large lead in the polls over GOP Sen. Mike DeWine. Democrats have led for weeks in races for two House seats long in Republican hands, and party officials talk giddily of snatching two or three more seats, gains that would almost certainly portend an end to GOP control of the House.
Already Republicans have abandoned plans to advertise or run their highly regarded get-out-the-vote program in races to replace Brown or Strickland in the House. Republicans dismiss talk of a political tidal wave. Increasingly, their goal however, has been to minimize losses at a time of widespread voter discontent over the economy, the war in Iraq and corruption. Sensing danger, they urge voters not to lash out indiscriminately, despite unhappiness with President Bush, outgoing Republican Gov. Bob Taft and a steady diet of scandals.
Still, not even Democrats could dream up the corruption double feature that has unspooled in recent days, GOP Rep. Bob Ney pleading guilty in the Jack Abramoff scandal last Friday, and party fundraiser Tom Noe going on trial in a separate state corruption probe Monday. All in all, Democrats should feel very good about their chances, though with prior election experiences against President Bush and Republicans chances are fleeting.