Ted Strickland

The story of the 2012 campaign is Obama's success in the swing state he was thought to be weakest in: Ohio. How did he pull it off?

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My takeaway from the conventions? That it's remarkable just how much the "who's on whose side" question has become clarified since 2010.

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Lodge 141 of the Fraternal Order of Police is housed, along with 446 jail cells, inside the Mahoning County Justice Center, a forbidding brick and steel hulk at the edge of the frayed downtown of Youngstown, Ohio. It’s a humble office, but its proprietors have embellished it with a number of rather pointed political decorations.

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In his deficit-reduction proposal, unveiled in his Rose Garden speech on Monday, President Obama once again found himself adopting the other party’s frame, embracing budget austerity instead of the fiscal stimulus that the economy needs. He still talks about finding bipartisan consensus and describes his ideas as common-sense solutions that every well-intentioned person should support, even though Republicans have shown they’ll block anything with his name on it.

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I've debated with Bill Galston whether or not Ohio has some singular importance to President Obama's reelection chances. (I say no -- it's getting more Republican while other states have grown more Democratic.) But the Midwest in general is certainly very important. And clearly, doing better in Ohio is better than doing worse. So it's pretty interesting that Republican governor John Kasich is already incredibly unpopular in Ohio, running 15 percentage points behind Ted Strickland, who he narrowly beat last November.

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How are Democrats losing a fight over whether to extend massive tax cuts that benefit only the very wealthiest Americans? That's the question a lot of us on the left have been asking. Apparently, outgoing Ohio Governor Ted Strickland is wondering the same thing:  "I think there is a hesitancy to talk using populist language," the Ohio Democrat said in a sit-down interview with The Huffington Post. "I think it has to do with a sort of intellectual elitism that considers that kind of talk is somehow lacking in sophistication. I'm not sure where it comes from. But I think it's there.

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President Obama hasn't indicated publicly that he will reorganize the White House staff. But sources are telling Marc Ambinder and Glenn Thrush, among others, that Obama is thinking about it. I presume that is a good thing. I don't know enough about the internal dynamics of the administration to understand how much responsibility, if any, advisers and staff bear for Tuesday's drubbing at the polls.

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[Guest post by Noam Scheiber:] For months now, a variety of left-leaning pundits have warned Democrats to strike a more populist tone if they want to survive politically. Unless your definition of “survive” is pretty liberal, it’s hard to argue that Democrats accomplished that last night (though losing control of the Senate would obviously have been much worse). Looking over the reams of data that the midterms generated, is there any evidence that the kibitzers were right? The short answer is yes. And, ironically, it comes by way of a contest the Democrats lost.

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CNN has released the head-to-head exit polls for selected statewide races where polls were closed, and though caution should be used in accepting this data (remember 2004?), it looks like Ted Strickland may be winning the Ohio governor's race, and that Peter Shumlin may be winning the Vermont governor's race. And hold onto your hats: The data also suggests Joe Manchin is winning the Senate race in West By God Virginia, which means you can forget about any Republican Senate.

A Gallup poll shows that the enthusiasm gap between Republicans and Democrats seems to be narrowing: Jonathan Bernstein cites this as one reason why I might be too bearish on the Democrats' midterm prospects. Well, maybe.

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