MEMO: Ohio Republicans In Disarray, While Ohio Democrats Build For November

Subject: Ohio Republicans In Disarray, While Ohio Democrats Build For November

Date: May 3, 2016

Pundits and politicos are closely watching the Republican presidential primary in Indiana to find out what’s next for the GOP field, but what’s been happening one state over could end up having a more significant long-term impact this November.

That’s because Republican prospects in Ohio are falling quickly.

Ohio is a swing state. Buckeye voters are smart and savvy, and if the primary showed us anything, it’s that the majority of Ohio voters are not prepared to support a Donald Trump candidacy… which is unfortunate for the Ohio Republican Party because Trump is looking more and more like their presumptive nominee.

If Trump is the GOP nominee, he will lose Ohio — and the presidency. But don’t take our word for it — here’s what one Ohio Republican told Politico last week:

Trump cannot and will not carry Ohio…. He will do well in Appalachia and in the Mahoning Valley, but he will get killed in the rest of the state. The danger for the GOP is losing Rob Portman, which is a very real possibility under this matchup.”

“Losing Rob Portman” is looking like an ever more likely possibility with the news that the “Republican National Committee is scaling back its financial commitments to some of the most hotly contested states because of flagging fund-raising.” According to the New York Times, the RNC was planning to send 176 field organizers to Ohio this summer. However, that plan will now be happening “slower,” Republican strategists have acknowledged.

Holding the Republican National Convention in Cleveland was supposed to be a boon for Ohio Republicans. Instead, given the chaos at the top of the ticket, the convention is becoming a source of embarrassment. Portman is planning his own separate “mini-convention” as what Bloomberg Politics called a “Trump buffer.” An Ohio Republican political consultant predicted, “There’ll be more contortions in position at the Republican convention than there will be at the summer Olympics in the gymnastics competition.”

The contortions have already begun, at least among members of the Ohio Republican Party’s executive committee, which met last Friday. The newly elected treasurer of the executive committee said she’s ready to “eat crow”:

Right now we are losing. We’re losing because we’re fighting among ourselves in rooms like this based on personality…. If things go the way they look now, my comments about Trump… I’ve got to eat crow and so do the rest of us.”

A member of the executive committee admitted the Ohio GOP’s governing body may not back Trump, and perhaps only half would support the Republican front-runner if he is the nominee. The Republican state auditor has already said he won’t back Trump if he garners the nomination.

The state Republican Party had to pull out all the stops to get Gov. John Kasich over the top to win Ohio’s primary — still the only primary Kasich has won. However, Kasich’s constant campaigning is taking a toll. Public Policy Polling released a new poll yesterday that found Kasich’s job approval rating has dropped by 8 percentage points — in just one month. In addition, about half of Ohio voters believe that Kasich should drop out of the race and that the governor is not being attentive enough to his duties. On top of that, a majority of Ohioans oppose Kasich using taxpayer dollars to pay for his security details as he campaigns out of state. As Kasich pursues his presidential ambitions, he’s becoming an unpopular, lame-duck governor back home.

To sum up, Republicans in Ohio are facing the following:

  • A presumptive nominee — Trump — that top leaders admit can’t win Ohio

  • Diminished support from the national party

  • A chaotic convention in their own backyard that even Ohio Republicans are avoiding

  • Deep internal divisions

  • An absentee, lame-duck governor with falling approval ratings

Meanwhile, the Ohio Democratic Party is continuing to build our grassroots infrastructure, with 60 field staffers already on the ground, organizing events, recruiting volunteers and reaching out to local constituency groups and leaders. We have thousands of active volunteers, and a party that is unified and ready to elect Ted Strickland to the U.S. Senate and keep a Democrat in the White House.

If it all comes down to the Buckeye State — as it so often does — Ohio Democrats are ready to deliver a victory this November.