Ohio: Are You Better Off Now Than You Were Four Years Ago?

While ABC reported on Tuesday that Kerry is ahead of Bush by 50-47, the race remains exceptionally tight. Real Clear Politics, which tracks polls state by state, shows that when the seven Ohio polls taken from 10/14-10/21 are averaged the result is an exact tie, 47.4% to 47.4%.

Certainly, some portion of Ohio voters are solidly in Bush’s base and will cast their votes for him regardless of the merits of any reality-based arguments (in many cases, for the worst of reasons.) But my guess is that that is at most 1/3rd of the Ohio electorate, meaning that in addition to the undecided 5%, approximately 1 in 4 of those currently supporting Bush might listen to reason. So here goes nothing.

Economic life under Bush II has been pretty tough. This is true in America in general, but is particularly true in Ohio. Some but not all of the Ohio’s problems are the direct result of Bush’s steel tariffs, an apparently fruitless attempt to win votes in Pennsylvania (a state he lost in 2000) on the backs of Ohioans (who supported Bush by 3.5 points in 2000.) What happens in Ohio, a state that specializes in making and selling stuff, when Bush’s tariffs increase the cost of making stuff? Less goods are manufactured and sold, and the people who otherwise would have made said goods lose their jobs. In fact, the Buckeye state is down about 175,000 manufacturing jobs since Bush took office:

But surely that decline is offset by a tax-cut induced boom in other sectors? Sadly, no:

Overall, Ohio has lost about 200,000 jobs since Bush took office, so the state has to lose about 25,000 non-manufacturing jobs as well.

But surely this is due to people leaving the state? Perhaps some other decline in Ohio’s working age population? No.

I’ll repeat this yet again: it’s not fair or accurate to lay responsibility for the onset of job losses in Ohio on President Bush. But much of the blame for failing to staunch the bleeding does in fact lie with the president. And the blame for actively exacerbating the bleeding with a steel-tariff shiv lies completely with the president.

Remember, as the Ohio GOP points out, “No Republican has ever been elected president without carrying Ohio.” If you know anyone in Ohio, you might ask them to seriously consider whether they want four more years like last the four, and strongly encourage them to vote accordingly.


UPDATE: Even as the Washington Post reports that

A poll by Ohio University’s Scripps Survey Research Center, completed Thursday night, found Kerry leading 49 percent to 43 percent among registered voters, with a margin of error of five percentage points,

the NYT reports that

Republican Party officials in Ohio took formal steps yesterday to place thousands of recruits inside polling places on Election Day to challenge the qualifications of voters they suspect are not eligible to cast ballots.

…Ohio election officials said they had never seen so large a drive to prepare for Election Day challenges. They said they were scrambling yesterday to be ready for disruptions in the voting process as well as alarm and complaints among voters. … they worried that the challenges could discourage or even frighten others waiting to vote.

In other words, even if it looks like Kerry’s got Ohio in the bag, it will still probably be down to the wire. Vote.