The Ohio primary was titillating for the Republicans, but pretty bland for the Democrats. Katja and I never fail to vote, so we did so again this time. But, even though we were there at a prime time, we only saw one other voter at the usually bustling polling place. The state’s overall turnout was a meager 25%, and I’ll bet it was still lower for Democratic voters. Even if irrelevant, we were happy to give our expression of electoral support to Barack Obama, as well as to our U.S. Senator, Sherrod Brown, who was also running unopposed in the primary. The only contested national Democratic race of any consequence on our ballot was to decide on the candidate to run for the U.S. House seat for our district. That seat is currently occupied by a popular long-time Republican politician from the city’s West Side. I guess the Democrats decided they had no chance against the incumbent since the two party nominees were both unknowns who have never held political office. One had previously lost a couple of elections for a state office and was strongly Pro-Life. He didn’t enthuse us much. The second, who was unemployed and hadn’t completed college, said he was running because he was fed up from years and years of writing complaints to the White House and not getting anything back but form letters. I suggested to Katja that we grit our teeth and go with the Pro-Life guy which is what we did. There were three or four contested judicial races, but, despite our good intentions, we always fail to get informed about the judges. As usual, I just sort of guessed, though Katja told me afterward I’d made a big mistake on one of them.
The authorities reportedly made it a little easier to switch party affiliations in Ohio’s primary this year. Supposedly the pollworkers were instructed to issue challenges only if they had personal information that voters belonged to the other party. It would have been more interesting and fun to vote in the Republican primary, but I was scared to lie and thought it unethical anyway. The Obama campaign put all of its resources in Ohio into defeating Romney, but not a penny against Santorum. I guess they would much rather run against Santorum than Romney in November. If I had voted in the Republican primary, I don’t think I could have brought myself to vote for Santorum, even if it were helping Obama. And Gingrich is even more offensive. I guess I would have voted for Ron Paul. He’s the most entertaining, and I actually find myself agreeing with something he says every once in a while.
I wrote down my predictions on Tuesday morning when I started working on this blog post: Romney, 39%; Santorum, 35%; Gingrich, 15%; Paul, 11%. I was a little over-optimistic about Romney and Paul – the final results were: Romney, 38%; Santorum, 37%; Gingrich, 14%; Paul, 9%; Perry and Huntsman, 1% each. Romney did best in Ohio’s big cities and their suburbs (e.g., Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, etc.). Santorum swept Ohio’s small towns and rural areas, a big chunk of the state. It was a narrow numerical victory for Romney, who’d been behind by two digits a couple of weeks beforehand, but less than impressive, given that he spent four times as much as all his other opponents combined. In our district’s House race the Pro-life guy beat the angry letter-writing guy, 50.5% to 49.5%, testimony to voters’ great acumen. In the other Cincinnati area district a four-time female Republican House incumbent was upset by a first-time candidate, allegedly because the Republican faithful were offended when she kissed Barack Obama on the cheek before his State of the Union address. In the House Democratic primary in that same district a well-known candidate was upset by a nominee that no Democratic party official had ever met or heard of, who had spent zero money on the campaign, had not responded to any newspaper requests for information, had never given an interview, and who had no known platform. The paper called him “the mystery candidate.” Apparently the Democrats are leaning, not only to candidates with no political experience, but to candidates with no public identity whatsoever. In the meantime, the Republicans have been counting on their partisan legislative redistricting of the state to give a huge advantage to Republican candidates and, in some cases, to pit incumbent Democratic congresspersons against one another in the primary. They’re undoubtedly cheering since their redistricting succeeded in getting rid of Dennis Kucinich, one of the U.S. House’s most vocal anti-war liberals. I guess the upshot of all this is that the four Republican presidential contenders will all remain in the race, continuing to pick one another apart, and damaging the chances of whoever winds up as the survivor for the general election. Ohio will be very important again in November. Our various relatives on the East and West coasts remain very nervous about the Buckeye State. I don’t blame them. It’s a strange, mysterious place.
-JML (3-8): I was really rooting for Santorum. Oh well.