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Morning Jay: Connecticut, West Virginia, The Sleeper Race, and More!

6:30 AM, Sep 29, 2010 • By JAY COST
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3. The Corzine Effect In Ohio.  This story really struck my funny bone.  From RealClearPolitics:

As he embarked on a bus tour on the first day of early voting in Ohio, Governor Ted Strickland fired up a union crowd in downtown Cleveland, asking rhetorically as he took the stage to chants of his name, "What enthusiasm gap?"

As the crowd of about 250 looked on, the incumbent Democrat defined his race against former Republican Congressman John Kasich as a "choice between Wall Street values and Ohio values."

A month before the election, speaking in Cuyahoga County, which gave him 335,000 votes in 2006, the sitting governor draws a crowd of 250?  What enthusiasm gap, indeed!

Kidding aside, polls show a tightening race for the Ohio governor’s spot, but once again this is a Democratic incumbent who can’t get out of the low-40s.  He’s averaged 42 percent of the vote in September, 41 percent in August, 43 percent in July, 42 percent in June.  That’s a very bad sign for Strickland. 

4. Mailbag…The Sleeper Race?  Arnold M. writes:

What House race do you see as the ultimate surprise?  This is a race that no one has on their radar as a toss-up or lean Democrat.

Good question!  My pick is PA-4.  This is a district north of Pittsburgh that picks up old union strongholds in Beaver and Lawrence counties, but the real base of power is in the wealthy suburbs of northern Allegheny County and the exurbs in Butler County.

 The district voted for McCain in 2008, but not as much as one might have expected.  Obama actually lost Beaver and Lawrence, which is quite unprecedented for a victorious Democrat, and I think he made up a bit of his deficit in the wealthier suburbs in northern Allegheny county.  My guess is that the Obama voters here have moved away from him (just like in metro Philly and NYC) and the working class counties in the west haven’t moved toward him.  

This is a district that Republican Melissa Hart lost in 2006 that frankly she should not have.  Even so, she fell to Democrat Jason Altmire, who has been a tough vote for the Democratic leadership to get, going against health care and cap-and-trade.  The Republican candidate this year is Keith Rothfus, who had just $202k on hand as of late June, but as this is my home district, I know he’s been busy. 

What this sets up is an interesting test case.  If the wave is big enough this year, Altmire’s money and his maverick streak will probably not be enough to save him.  If the GOP picks up 60 seats or more, this will probably be one of the ones to go.

Keep those great questions coming!  jay.p.cost@gmail.com.

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