Scott Pullins made an interesting observation the other day:
Every successful Republican race for Governor after 1920 has included a nominee that either had previously held statewide office, run for statewide office unsuccessfully, or both.
And since John Kasich has neither held nor run for any statewide office in Ohio it would seem the GOP candidate for Governor is starting off at a severe disadvantage.
While I’d love to believe there is some secret truth hidden in these numbers, I’m more inclined to dismiss the whole thing outright. I’ve watched and researched too many elections to believe that you can make any kind of accurate prediction about one race based solely on a statistical analysis of the races that preceded it.
The last presidential election is a perfect example. A black guy beat out a woman for the Democratic nomination in 2008. And then he won the general election against a white war hero. Enough said.
Strictly on the numbers I wouldn’t put too much faith in Scott’s observations. But he takes the analysis a step further and presents a pretty good case as to why this nearly-century-long GOP “curse” might actually impact Kasich this year:
Candidates for statewide office in Ohio, with its distinct seven major media markets, obtain needed name identification by either running statewide or by running expensive television campaigns, or both.
Since Kasich is still a huge unknown to a large portion of Ohio’s voters, the door is wide open for Kasich to be defined by Governor Strickland. And Strickland is not missing any opportunity to do just that.
Hopefully Scott is right about this one. At the very least his research and analysis provides for an interesting take on the election and, more importantly, it inspired me to do a little number crunching of my own. Just like with the GOP pattern, my numbers seem to bode well for Governor Strickland in November.
Looking at Wikipedia’s list of election results for Ohio Governor, there seems to be a HUGE advantage to running for Governor in Ohio as an incumbent. I’ll steal Scott’s reasoning for interpretting these numbers because it seems to apply to both situations: people vote for someone they know. And, based on a count of reelected incumbants, already being the Governor seems to be a pretty damn good way of getting your name out there in front of the people who vote in a gubernatorial election.
Out of 27 elections in which an incumbent was running, the result favored that incumbent 22 times. That’s an over 80% success rate for sitting governors running for reelection.
Again, this certainly isn’t serious scientific evidence of any kind. But it does seem to show that Kasich needs to put in a lot of hard work if he wants to have a serious shot at taking out Governor Strickland in November. Fortunately we haven’t seen any indication that he’s willing to put that kind of effort into this campaign.