This midterm election year saw Republicans vanquish Democrats nationally as they did in Ohio, where they swept all statewide seats and added to their padding in the Ohio House, winning 65 out of 99 seats.  Nationally, GOP candidates won back the U.S. Senate and improved their majority caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives, where long-time Ohio GOP Congressman John Boehner will continue as speaker, a constitutional position third in line to the presidency he’s held since the rise of the Tea Party in 2010.

Facing an electoral map that dramatically favored Republicans, Democrats got shellacked again with help from national and state media that dutifully regurgitated the meme that Republicans couldn’t lose because Democrats couldn’t win. With voter turnout at about 40 percent, a pathetically low bar not seen since the 1940s, the bumper sticker slogan of Republicans win when Democrats don’t vote became all too real. President Obama’s low job approval rating was also offered as prima facie evidence of why Republicans were confident and Democrats were scared. But according to a Gallup survey out Monday, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, a favorite to lead Democrats in two years, extend their runs as most admired. Gallup shows that Mrs. Clinton is most admired woman for the 13th year in a row and Barack Obama is most admired man for the seventh straight time.

But the 2014 horror show for Democrats is over. President Obama’s ratings are back up again and the doom and bloom that haunted Democrats this election cycle is over as the sun rises on another presidential election cycle when Democrats, as history shows, can count on a far larger turnout of voters. Republicans could easily lose the majority they won this year in two years when they have 24 seats up compared to 10 for Democrats, including seven in states President Obama carried twice. Unlike this year, Democrats won’t have any red-state senators facing reelection as they turnout women, African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, minorities, students, seniors in numbers that helped them win four of the last six presidential contests, including wins by Barack Obama who twice scored more than 50-percent of the national vote.

A reversal of fortune for Democrats will grow as vulnerable Republicans like Ohio’s junior U.S. Senator Rob Portman, elected in 2010, become the hunted as the election map favors Democrats, especially the party’s presidential ticket. A conservative congressman from Cincinnati who served as budget director for President George W. Bush then as trade representative, Sen. Portman is one of the ten senators deemed beatable by The Hill, a Washington based news group. Portman was on Mitt Romney’s shortlist of VP candidates in 2012 and has received attention as a possible presidential contender in 2016. Voluntarily removing himself from the list of GOP presidential hopefuls, which still includes Gov. John Kasich, election watchers see him as formidable, especially in a GOP controlled state like Ohio, which can make or break a candidate’s campaign to be Commander in Chief. Portman, a “commonsense conservative” who can fundraise with the best of them, is white, rich, calm and measured and is a pedigreed establishment Republican who unlike Texas’s Tea Party Sen. Ted Cruz, doesn’t purposely poke the hornets nest of the anti-Obama-anti-government ilk from his perch in the Senate.

“Over the past months, Americans have made clear they are tired of partisan bickering and not getting anything done,” says Sen. Portman in his introduction to his accomplishments in 2014. “I have remained focused on solutions and addressing the issues I hear about from people all across Ohio—from protecting Lake Erie to helping people connect with jobs to Ohio’s small business owners struggling in a weak economy,” he says, adding standard GOP boilerplate concerns on spending taxpayer dollars wisely, promoting jobs and pro-growth policies, and protecting national defense. In the just concluded 113th Congress, Sen. Portman introduced 69 bills, 15 of which have been signed into law.

Democrats are hopeful, nonetheless, that Portman can be beat even in today’s very red Ohio. At age 73, former Democratic Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, who many wanted to take on Gov. John Kasich in a rematch this year, is an eligible candidate to topple Portman. Strickland won the Sixth Congressional District numerous times from 1993 to 2004, won a lopsided 2-1 statewide victory for governor in 2006 then lost reelection when John Kasich won in 2010 by only 77,000 votes statewide. Now that Ohio Democrats have chosen David Pepper as their new party chairman, the big lift for Mr. Pepper and his team including former Cleveland State Senator Nina Turner, an outspoken voice for voting and voting rights, is to turnout voters.

As national Democrats again enter Ohio to prep the biggest battleground state of them all to deliver another Democrat to succeed President Obama for the next eight years, a very red Buckeye State today will turn bluer as Republicans bump up against an unexpandable ceiling of aging and angry white voters. Democrats, on the other hand, will gain strength by registering more voters and turning already registered Democrats—of which there are 800,000 more than registered GOP voters in Ohio—out in greater numbers. When Democratic and independent voters sync, as they did with SB 5 in 2011 and the reelection of President Obama in 2012, their issues and candidates win.

  • jr6020

    You can’t be Portman with nobody. If Ted stays out (I think he will, he’s getting old) who else do the DEMS have? It’s a pretty empty bench right now. Maybe John Patrick Carney? Tim Ryan? I doubt Portman is shaking in his boots…

  • anastasjoy

    I don’t think you can beat him with Ted either. The one thing I have heard over and over from party activists in the last few months is “We have to get away from the Strickland years and the Strickland people.” Strickland made some very hurtful errors in 2010 that have left scars. We need to move on and find someone new. I think we have those people.

  • davescottsc

    Unless congressional Rs REALLY blow it in the next two years, I think this speculation is awfully optimistic.

  • Retrofuturistic

    I guess Ohio does look “very red” when you look at the results of a hacked and gerrymandered “election”.

  • davescottsc

    I doubt any incumbent governor could have won with Ohio’s unemployment numbers in 2010 — numbers governors actually have almost nothing to do with. 2006 and 2008 were bad years to be an R — 2010 was the wrong year to be a D — anywhere. What IS true about Strickland, much as I respect him, is that his statewide win came in a D year against Ken Blackwell.

  • anastasjoy

    Yes, it was, but if he had not made some crucial errors and run a weak campaign based on playing defense, he would have been reelected anyway. He made those errors and a lot of people who are engaged with the party feel it’s a good time to move on to a new era.

  • anastasjoy

    I agree but I think with the right candidate he can be beaten and we shouldn’t pre-defeat ourselves for presuming otherwise. He could have been beaten in 2010 as well, the polls showed, if only we had had a candidate who actually bothered to campaign.

  • davescottsc

    Yes, well. Portman will be a strong opponent for anyone. I hope Dems run the strongest possible candidate, and since it’s 2014, I’ll leave it at that.

  • mrgavel

    I admire Gov. Strickland but running him against Portman won’t work. He will be tarnished with the 400,000 lost jobs advertising campaign that worked in 2010. Nominating a older white male won’t do anything to turn out women, minorities, and younger voters. The better choice would be Former Congresswoman Betty Sutton or Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman. Of those two I like Sutton better than Coleman because having Clinton at the top of the ticket followed by Sutton would help turn out single women, a critical voting block for Dems. I find it interesting that you only included Strickland as a possible Dem nominee. One of the criticisms that I have heard about Plunderbund is that you are made up of former Strickland supporters. Not mentioning other Dem possibilities bolsters that impression and does a disservice to your readers.

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