November 19, 2004


How Bush Camp Won Ohio: Religious, Rural Voters Were Key; Cities Not Enough for Kerry (JEANNE CUMMINGS, November 19, 2004, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL)

A close analysis of Ohio, which turned out to be the key swing state in the presidential election, shows that President Bush won thanks to a pitch on morals that went beyond evangelicals to Roman Catholics, a strong effort to turn out rural voters and a last-minute tax break for farmers, small businesses and families.

Those factors trumped the economic message of Democratic challenger John Kerry, which won little traction despite the state's depressed job market, according to a close analysis of county-by-county results from the Nov. 2 vote.

Election Day interviews with voters offered evidence that Mr. Bush's strategy of mixing cultural, security and economic messages resonated more strongly with Ohio voters than Mr. Kerry's message, which was largely focused on the economy. Though exit polls showed that Ohioans ranked jobs and the economy as their top concern, 43% of them trusted Mr. Bush to manage a recovery compared with 38% who trusted Mr. Kerry. Right below those pocketbook issues, Ohioans ranked moral values and the war on terrorism in importance -- and on both, Mr. Bush scored double-digit advantages over Mr. Kerry.

Just one of the many problems that confront a Democratic Party that remains trapped in amber is that they think the electorate is still shaped by the Great Depression and associates Republicans with Hoover. People don't just doubt the Democrats capacity to handle national security but to govern.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 19, 2004 8:58 AM

Though exit polls showed that Ohioans ranked jobs and the economy as their top concern, 43% of them trusted Mr. Bush to manage a recovery compared with 38% who trusted Mr. Kerry.

This is the nub of it: it's not enough for Democrats to gripe about the economy, even in a state where it's doing poorly. They must also offer a credible alternative, and they didn't.

Same thing with the perennial right direction/wrong direction poll question: just because a large percentage, or even a majority, say the country is headed in the wrong direction doesn't necessarily mean they'll vote for the challenger, unless the challenger seems to offer an improvement. Secret "plans" aren't enough.

Posted by: PapayaSF at November 19, 2004 1:53 PM

What Democratic economic policy offers even the merest hint of a possibility of an increase in lower middle class jobs of the sort that have disappeared from Ohio in the last few decades? Other than raising taxes, the Dems have no economic policy.

Posted by: Bart at November 19, 2004 5:31 PM

This is exactly why the GOP isn't a lock for '08.

In Ohio, Bush won personality and organization contests.

The '08 nominee doesn't automatically inherit those advantages.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at November 19, 2004 8:36 PM

Every statewide office in OH is GOP, no?

Posted by: oj at November 19, 2004 9:36 PM

Yet Kerry almost won the state.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at November 20, 2004 2:52 AM

Strange use of almost. Bush was closer in WI, PA, etc.

Posted by: oj at November 20, 2004 8:55 AM


I'm surprised. Usually, you show more intellectual rigor. Bush increased his Ohio margin over 2000, and won a solid if unspectacular victory, mirroring the national result.

I will rephrase my earlier question. If Ohioans are more concerned about economic issues than other Americans, and for the nonce I will accept that assumption, then what precise proposal or action of the Democrats since the election of Jimmy Carter should give anyone any sense that the national Democratic party cares one whit more about the 'blue-collar working stiff' than the GOP?

Posted by: Bart at November 20, 2004 9:11 PM