The National Catholic Review

The students hanging from the trees, the adulating crowds, the campaigner’s hoarse voice calling for “a movement for change”—it all made President Obama’s appearance last night at Ohio State look something like October, 2008. For a moment, the ‘enthusiasm gap’ seemed to vanish, along with any anxieties about employment, polling and favourability numbers. It reminded me of an old chestnut: “Let Reagan be Reagan” was what the Gipper’s advisors used to say during his mid-term slumps. In other words, get him out among his people, the people who put him in the White House in the first place, then just let him work his magic. The problem for President Obama is that it isn’t clear just who his people are right now: as we know, the tea partiers are marching, the left is in whiny, quasi-revolt, and the middle is mad as hell and not about to take it any more.

What to do? A twelfth presidential trip to Ohio was a good start. The state is the platonic form of bellwether: as Ohio goes, so goes the nation, more than 90% of the time in presidential elections. Ohio “contains a bit of everything American—part north-eastern and part southern, part urban and part rural, part hardscrabble urban and part suburb” is how The Economist aptly describes it. In recent years, the buckeyes have leaned Democrat and the party has registered over 1,000,000 new Ohio voters since 2004. Still, Obama won only a quarter of Ohio’s counties in ’08 and a look at the speakers on the dais last night shows that things are not quite hunkey-dorey for Ohio Democrats. To Mr. Obama’s right (on the dais, that is) was Governor Strickland, who is currently trailing former Rep. John Kasich, the no-nonsense, budget-cutting maverick Republican. Also seated nearby was Lt. Governor Lee Fisher, the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, who is trailing his G.O.P. opponent by some 15 to 19 points, depending on which poll you read. Sure it’s impressive for a President to muster 35,000 voters for a mid-term election rally, but let's not mistake last night’s gathering for a representative sample of Ohio voters.

The results of the races in Ohio, of course, will have serious repercussions for 2012. It is likely that fewer states overall will be in the swing column in 2012, meaning that the traditional swing states, like Ohio and Florida, will be even more important. Governors and U.S. Senators, with their bully pulpits, their money and their organizations, have a lot of potential to influence the swing of their states. If both offices in Ohio are held by the G.O.P. the climb will be a lot steeper for Democrats than it was in 2008, when Obama won Ohio by less than 300,000 votes. Remember also that Ohio’s unemployment rate is nearing 10%. It was only 8.5% when Ohio sent Jimmy Carter packing in 1980. In order to carry Ohio in 2012, Obama will need to be Obama circa September, 2008: He’ll have to get back to Ohio a thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth time and more, sure up his base in places like Columbus, and then win back the marginal counties. This strategy assumes, of course, that the Obama of ’08 still exists and that voters beyond the walls of Ohio State are still willing to trust him.

 

Comments

Anonymous | 10/19/2010 - 4:54am
The Great Depression ended in 1946 after Roosevelt had died and his New Deal policies had essentially been abandoned.  A more business friendly Congress passed tax reductions for business and business knew in turn that the hostility of the Roosevelt administration was gone.  Roosevelt pro longed the Depression with his anti business policies.


The Democrats repeated their Jimmy Carter follies of the late 1970's in the last two years as they lowered fed rates and spent heavily with fiscal policy.  That was a massive failure in the 1970's as it has been the last year.  They have repeated the anti business approach by passing massive regulatory legislation producing an unknown future in terms of hiring costs and margins.  On top of this no knows the tax rates just 2 1/2 months from now.  Withholding rates are unknown for the immediate future.  Essentially the Dems and Obama have created a great uncertainty for the future, just the opposite of what is needed for an economy to grow.  They haven't even proposed a budget for next year as they did not want to have to run on it during the elections.

The inflation has not hit yet because the multiplier affect has not set in as people are not spending.  The Fed just agreed to insert another massive amount of money into the economy.  If it ever starts turning, we could get 70's type inflation as some think the Fed wants this to inflate the housing market and get people out from under water.  Unfortunately that has a lot of other problems.
ROBERT KILLOREN | 10/18/2010 - 9:13pm
Jeff,

I've worked hard in my profession for over forty years and raised four children and was looking forward to be able to save up a little money during my remaining work years after I get my last kid out of college (just 2-1/2 years to go). But between losing my job and paying for insurance my employer used to pay for. my life savings are headed south. You'll have to pardon me but lately all I have time to read is my daily office and the readings that I'm to preach on next. But I must respond even without reading Augustine, no - I do not put my faith in politicians, that is reserved for God alone. You also should have noted that I say I am "more optimistic" - I've never lost my optimism, which is based on my hope and trust in God. I'm sorry you feel so pessimistic with your whole life ahead of you. You'll waste an awful lot of energy on worrying and fretting over things you cannot control. My main point is simply to say that things are not as bad as people want to paint them and they're definitely never as bad as the press reports them.

Try to take it easy... 
Anonymous | 10/18/2010 - 6:54pm
"This year I have lost my job, had to have three operations including getting two stents in my heart, and I'm praying that we won't lose our house, but I am more optimistic now about the future than I was two years ago despite all that. And I believe I have President Obama to thank for that."

- You need to re-read your Augustine, Deacon, if you're putting that much faith, hope and trust in politicians.  I'm 30, work hard, try to save and be conscious of the future, and generally hope one day to earn enough to have to worry about Mr. Obama's tax, but I have never been more pessimistic about the future of the country.

ed gleason | 10/18/2010 - 4:34pm
It took a full decade to get out of the thirties depression. The posters and media want Obama to get out of the second financial crisis in a hundred years in 18months. The DOW has risen 80% to 11143....... from a month after Obama took over at  6500. Not bad considering un-employment is always a lagger.... one more year and we will be back.. don't bet ...invest one it.
ROBERT KILLOREN | 10/18/2010 - 4:16pm
No one seems to have either read President Obama's book The Audacity of Hope nor listened to what he really has to say. Certainly Mr. Cavuto has not because he has never addressed anything in it. Instead, he has done nothing but attempt to thwart any good that might have come of this presidency from day one. He was one of the strongest voices saying he hoped Obama would fail. Americans expect partisanship, that's how party politics works (the word partisan after all comes from "party"). But this was not partisanship, this is being anti-American - a word that Mr. Cavuto and others were so willing to bandy about during President Bush's administration whenever anyone criticized that administration. It would also seem that most commentators and politicians on the left have not read Obama either or they could have anticipated the moves he made and understood why he made them. Next to Reagan, Obama has been about the only recent president who has done exactly what he said he would do. Obama was and is not a radical progressive. He is a middle of the road Democrat. Obama said he was going to restore Congress to its rightful role as the governmental body that puts together laws. Obama believed the role of the presidency was dangerously expanded during the Bush administration. He followed through on that promise and let Congress thrash out legislation. (It is just too bad that they were so bad at it.) He said he wanted the government to work in a bi-partisan way, and he has consistently stuck to his guns on that matter of principle in the face of outrage from the left and calumny from the right. Obama has not failed the American people, they have let him and their country down. When he said road to recovery would be long and hard - they said, "We want it now." When he said that restoring a balanced budget would take sacrifice - they said, "We want it all." When he said let's stimulate the economy by building jobs, the states spent little building new jobs or keeping old ones but mostly used it to bale our their own boondoggles. When he tried to reform Wall Street, dirty money cam out of everywhere to help finance lobbyists and ad people to fight reform. But Obama has stuck in their despite the lies and distortions, the pressure from his party, and the power and greed of the oligarchy to work to keep his campaign promises. And he has succeeded in so many. Not to the extent that some may have hoped, but considering where we were we are among the luckiest people in history. Instead of what we have we could easily be in a depression deeper than anything from the 30s, we could be plagued by terrorist attacks on a daily basis as the whole Islamic people could have risen against what they perceive as American imperialism, we could have fighting in the streets because men and women desperate for jobs took up arms as some in Congress and on talk radio called for to fight against immigrants, foreigners, and anyone else who was "them" and not "us." And look around: we don't live in a socialist country, many honest banks have paid back the government and are doing business in a more socially conscious way, individual people all across the country are saving more - not only money but energy as well and becoming much more concerned about living green, the automobile industry of the United State did not crumble into ruin but is rebuilding stronger than every and have paid back what we the people invested in them, our children and our elderly are and will continue to receive better health care, and soon all Americans will be able to have access to health insurance no matter what their current financial or health situation. This year I have lost my job, had to have three operations including getting two stents in my heart, and I'm praying that we won't lose our house, but I am more optimistic now about the future than I was two years ago despite all that. And I believe I have President Obama to thank for that.
THOMAS FARANDA | 10/18/2010 - 1:42pm
Obama back to Ohio multiple itmes? He and the democrats might do better if he just maintains a low profile and stays in DC.
Anonymous | 10/18/2010 - 11:41am
As a young person myself, it is probably true that many people my age "support" President Obama (although I myself do not support his policies).  This is largely due to the mistaken belief that they will continue to enjoy the level of government subsidy/support many currently with the same tax burden that they currently "shoulder" (close, if not actually, none).  Unfortunately more than more pep rallies, they need a leader who will awaken them to the unfortunate economic realities that awaits them once they leave the protected walls of academia & inspire in them a commitment to teh sorts of policies that will prevent an economic collapse and ensure another American century (to the extent the Left has not brainwashed them into thinking such a possibilty foolhardy).  For that lesson, however, they would need to wander over to a Rob Portman/John Kasich rally because they surely won't get it from Pres. Obama's rallies nor, it seems, from reading America's "In All Things" blog, which remains a cheerleader for the cheerleader.
Anonymous | 10/18/2010 - 11:31am
'' Mr. Cosgrove's comment is partisan spin''

Yes, I am partisan.  Partisan to a vibrant economy and low unemployment and true social justice. 


Would you say that Father Malone's comments and those of many other authors here are partisan spin?
ROBERT NUNZ MR | 10/18/2010 - 11:03am
It's clear that the President still enjoys wide spread support among our young and that Mr. Cosgrove's comment is partisan spin that dominates the airwaves and enhances division.
Anonymous | 10/18/2010 - 10:52am
In 2008 few Americans knew anything about Obama.  A lot of information was available but none discussed in the national press.  But more are learning what he is about not just policy wise but personally.  Here is a piercing appraisal of him as a person by Neil Cavuto that I saw for the first time last night.


http://media2.foxnews.com/091310/091310_cav_sense_FNC_091310_17-07_FNC_MED.mp4


If one reads into his history before being president such an appraisal is not surprising.  I believe a lot of people are seeing what Cavuto sees.  So letting Obama be Obama is probably the worst thing that has happened to the Democrats in the last two years.  Of course Nancy Pelosi has contributed immensely.