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Voter turnout, seasonal cycles: Mountains FitzGerald must climb to beat Kasich

Political pundits who seek to divine which political candidates or parties will win or lose this year are gathering around the narrative that the winds of political fortune are blowing for Republicans this midterm election year, when voter turnout is historically lower than in presidential years, and voters who do turn out are generally older, whiter and more affluent.

Will Democrats be losers this fall as political pundits predict?
Will Democrats be losers this fall as political pundits predict?
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Ohio Democrats hold their Legacy Dinner Saturday night in Columbus, at which Ed FitzGerald and other statewide candidates will speak. Can he derail the growing narrative that GOP candidates will prevail this fall?
Philip and Karen Smith

Another narrative taking shape this election cycle focuses on millennial generation voters who helped elect Barack Obama president in 2008 and 2012. Reports on polling targeting these youthful voters say they have no loyalty to institutions including political parties. Despite the growing understanding that young voters tend to be very liberal overall, a real concern for Republicans today and tomorrow, they have de-coupled from the White House and Organizing for Action, the president's once formidable campaign organization.

Millennials see the president's health care plan as too timid when compared to a public option that never entered the field of play. A real consequence of Millennials drifting away from the White House and Democrats in general is their resistance to sign-up in sufficient numbers for mandated health insurance coverage in the cycle that ends March 31.

"The millennials are at least as passionate as earlier generations and more entrepreneurial, but they lack ties to institutions — unions, political parties, churches — because of their online existence. … Asking them to pay money to join a health-care exchange, it seems, is too tall an order — even though the presidency they created depends on it," writes Dana Millbank

The most recent tea leafs to read on what fortunes await the major political parties this year came in the special election last Tuesday in Florida in a district [13th Congressional] long-held by Republicans, that President Obama won last year, that was seen as a toss-up election that would offer tantalizing wind-sock results on which way the wind was blowing.

The GOP candidate won it in a less than 49 percent voter turnout by a scant two percentage points.

Meanwhile, drilling down on this year's races for governor, the Cook Political Report, a standard go-to resource for the pundit class, offers a glimmer of hope to Democrats, who could win back two to four state CEO jobs. Charlie Cook, the eponymous chief of the report, notes that the "2010 cycle was a horrific one for Democrats, who lost six governorships." Four years later, he writes, "Republicans are generally overexposed in gubernatorial races, defending 22 seats to just 14 for Democrats," adding that nine of the GOP governorships (or almost half) are in states President Obama carried.

John Kasich was one of the brood of 2010 Tea Party governors who took control of executive offices in the same year Republicans won a whopping 63 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, where Ohio Congressman John Boehner, who was elevated to House speaker, has reigned over a majority conference that in many ways has been controlled by his minority Tea Party caucus, whose mission has been to oppose everything proposal that comes from the White House, with special anger for the Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare by GOP leaders.

Cook writes, "...the wind certainly appears to be blowing in favor of Republicans ... The main question is whether it is a light, moderate, strong, or hurricane-force wind." Republicans won 23 in 2010, so Cook says they should be prepared to lose seats this year. Among the big questions facing Ed FitzGerald and his running mate Sharen Neuhardt, a ticket already endorsed by the Ohio Democratic Party [ODP], is whether the narrative that of the president's low job approval ratings, combined with the months-long flack he's taken over the roll-out of the ACA, which Republicans say is their key to winning back the U.S. Senate and retaining control of state and local elections, will have this midterm-election cycle?

The horror movie scenario that awaits Ohio's senior U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat elected first in 2006 and again in 2012, come January 1, 2015, if the current narrative comes true that the GOP wins six net seats in the fall, is that the GOP Majority Leader could be Texas Senator Ted Cruz or another Tea Party senator who has promised to repeal the ACA in total, and, if the House remains Republican as Cook and others predict it will, could be emboldened enough to impeach the president, the same way they tried but failed to do to President Bill Clinton in the 1990s.

As Ed FitzGerald and the other Ohio Democrats running to unseat Republican officeholders enjoy their Legacy Dinner tonight in Columbus, the warnings from Cook and others that 2014 is trending against them should not spoil their dessert. Instead, it should fan their fury to prove the pundits wrong, but to do so means toppling a kingpin governor with the power of incumbency, lots of campaign cash, and a gerrymandered GOP legislature at his back.

In 2010, John Kasich said he could win if everyone "locked arms to climb a mountain." The mountain for Team FitzGerald-Neuhardt to climb this year is Democratic voter apathy that includes drifting millennials who for all their social media exuberance still don't understand that voting every election, not just in presidential election years, is what makes representative democracy representative.

Furthermore, Ed FitzGerald told CGE that he thinks he can beat Kasich one-on-one. Unless third party candidates including Libertarian Party of Ohio candidate Charlie Earl are returned to the primary ballot, as only a federal judge can do, FitzGerald will be forced to make his prediction come true. With Earl and others on the ballot, the political theory that Gov. Kasich could be defeated by them taking base voters away, leaving FitzGerald top man in a three-way race, is still possible. Without the help of third-party candidates, FitzGerald's mountain top remains above the clouds.

If the Cook Political Report is indeed accurate, as it has proven itself to be in the past, as many as four Tea Party governors will not be rehired. Can Gov. John Kasich be among that crowd? Ohio Democrats have a mountain to climb for sure, but to summit this peak they will have to force Ohio's mainstream media to take on Kasich in ways it has been reluctant or afraid to do so far in his 40 months on the job.

And to do this, ODP and its candidates will have to show that the resources, expertise, and messages that helped the White House win the biggest presidential battleground state twice in a row can be marshaled in mid-term election years.

That's the Ohio mountain Democrats must climb this year.

The news article Voter turnout, seasonal cycles: Mountains FitzGerald must climb to beat Kasich appeared first on Columbus Government Examiner.

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