After Tim read  my post yesterday about Keeling’s rushed eagerness to push a poll in the Auditor’s race that was clearly questionable on its face, let alone when you did a cursory review of the pollster’s “credentials,”  Tim said something I hinted at the beginning of my post.  Yesterday’s post by Keeling was even hackish even for the Carpetblogger (I’d note that Matt Naugle and other conservative bloggers didn’t rush to tout this poll.)  So, Tim asked, why did Keeling?

I’ll tell you why.  Keeling, and by extension, Camp Kasich have been very nervous about the Auditor’s race.  Let’s not forget that Kasich upset many both in the Ohio Republican Party and beyond by taking Mary Taylor out of the Auditor’s race and into his.  The GOP calculation had always been that Jon Husted’s massive fundraising advantage would be enough to win the Secretary of State’s race, and then Taylor only needed to be re-elected in the event that Kasich failed to defeat Ted Strickland for the GOP to keep the majority of the Apportionment Board.  You see, Taylor was ORP’s insurance policy against a Kasich defeat.

This was not an unreasonable plan by the Ohio GOP.  Although her fundraising lagged behind Democratic nominee/Hamilton County Commissioner David Pepper, I personally felt that so long as Taylor was in the race, Pepper had an uphill to climb.  I had asked several Democratic operatives to make a case to me against Taylor’s re-election.  I was not very impressed with it.  Let me repeat that:, I, a progressive blogger, was not impressed with the Democratic arguments against re-electing Mary Taylor.  As such, I felt that despite her fundraising problems, Taylor was likely looking at re-election… at least more so than just about any other Statewide incumbent.

But Kasich changed that calculus in a disastrous rollout of the Kasich-Taylor ticket that left the media declaring that the GOP had all but conceded the Auditor’s race.

What ensued was a divisive primary between to large unknowns that pitted the fledgling Tea Party movement against the very Ohio GOP establishment that is counting on a Tea Party turnout come November to bring the GOP back into power.

Then, after Yost and the Ohio Republican Party crushed the Tea Party Rebel Alliance, he emerged with a campaign finance report that made it appear that he had just won a primary to determine the GOP candidate to lose in the fall.

Seriously, David Pepper has $1.2 million on hand compared to $36k for David Yost.  No, I didn’t leave out a zero, either.

Yost raised a paltry $50k compared to Pepper’s $430k.  This, despite the fact that Yost had a contested primary with the full establishment support of the Ohio Republican Party.  This means that Yost needs to increase his fundraising rate by a factor of ten just to keep up with Pepper.  Yost is actually doing worse in fundraising that incumbent State Auditor Mary Taylor was when she decided to drop out due to poor fundraising performance and instead run on the ticket with John Kasich.

Will the Ohio Republican Party save Yost since it’s an Apportionment Board seat?

No.  And let me repeat that.  No.  They will not save Yost until his first demonstrates that he can competitively raise money on his own.  The Ohio Republican Party does not a fundraising advantage that they could essentially erase Pepper’s fundraising advantage for Yost.  At least, not while the Republicans have a close Gubernatorial race, close Senate seat to defend, several Congressional pickup opportunities they pursuing, and State House seats they’re also trying to win in order to win back the majority.

The problem is that the GOP donor community saw the same numbers and likely started cutting their losses… i.e.- stopped considering to give to Yost’s campaign. 

The only way to break this cycle was for the Yost campaign to have something, anything, that it could give donors to show that this was still a winnable race for the GOP.  Enter Weitzel Strategies’ poll.

The Kasich campaign can handle losing to Ted Strickland, but they particularly want to avoid any blame for potentially costing the GOP the Apportionment Board by taking Taylor out of the Auditor’s race.  Thus, Jon Keeling’s breathless reporting of a questionable campaign poll conducted by a largely unknown pollster with no real track record except for generating polls that reflect what conservatives want to believe is true.

Despite numerous attempts, I can’t even get anyone to say even off the record if there’s any polling on our side of the fence on the race.  My instinct then is to say that I would predict that the head-to-head numbers are probably very close but both are dwarfed by a near supermajority of voters who haven’t decided because both candidate are largely unknown.

The only good news the Yost campaign has had is that their conservative campaign “pollster” was able to give them a poll they could use to try to persuade doubting donors that their campaign is not a “lost cause.”  However, that is not grounds for Democrats to become complacent.  The reality is that both candidates are so largely unknown that it’s a jump ball, with a financial edge favoring Pepper who hales from one of the most populous areas of the State and is a Democrat who has won in traditionally Republican areas.

Makes sense, no?

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