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.