Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ohio: Half-full, or half-empty?

AN EMAIL from a former Ohioan now living in Virginia as an official of Virginia Tech:

  "You know, I love Ohio and I love my fellow Ohioans, but sometimes not so much.  This is embarrassing, just embarrassing."

   She had just witnessed a filmed account of some of the snarling attacks on Obama at a recent McCain rally in Strongsville.  I, too, cringed when I saw one young woman in particular tipping the balance to insanity (not the idiotic one who complained to McCain that his opponent was an "Arab"!) Well, as the cleaned-up saying goes, Life happens. 

    As a so-called swing state, Ohio has  made the difference in presidential campaigns to such an extent that Republicans insist that if they lose Ohio, they lose the presidency. But its political character rests so much on a deeply divided electorate that it isn't likely to resolve itself in the November election.  This was confirmed by a  newly published statewide poll by a  consortium of state newspapers that gave Obama a comfortable lead in the northern northern tier of the state but but a double-digit advantage for McCain in southwest Ohio.   The split, which I encountered for years as a political writer venturing down to the Ohio River with candidates,  is best viewed as one of social identities:  The lower half of the state continues to share the Appalachian culture of its  neighbors, Kentucky and  West Virginia.  They are inseparable. Include in the mix a thriving Christian conservative  Southern-style ol' time religion and, well, you can ask what chance does a middle-of-the-road to liberal politician have? Not much.  So do not ask for whom Ohio votes, ask instead where it votes and hope that at the end of the day  your side outnumbers theirs.  
      If Ohio goes for McCain, it will again stupefy the experts on how a state with a marooned economy and silent factories can't turn the page in the voting booth to look for new possibilities.  I'm not an expert, but I will be stupefied, too.       


Mencken said...

Seeing as though the "Three R's" in West Virginia and Kentucky for the longest time were "readin', ritin', and Route 77 to Akron", we shouldn't be surprised by any Ohio vote.

Grumpy Abe said...

Worrisome, huh?

PJJinOregon said...

It sounds as though Ohio has an urban/rural divide not unlike Oregon. Remove the Portland metro area and Oregon becomes a brilliant red voting bloc. While the rural areas have suffered severe economic decline, they continue to vote for the party that orchestrates the decline. Voting is an emotional act, not a reasoned one.