Thursday, November 4, 2004
Intense 2008 election forecast for Ohio
By Carl Weiser
Enquirer Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - The ads. The visits. The endless door knocking and phone calling.
It could all happen again in 2008 in Ohio, with just as much intensity - if not more, say election experts and volunteers.
The fact that Ohio, from start to finish, played such a decisive role in this year's election means its importance will only grow in 2008. The repeated person-to-person contacts that brought a huge voter turnout are expected to be the standard for future elections.
"This election obviously raises the stakes for Ohio, especially in light of the fact that the nation is so evenly divided and Ohio is so evenly divided," said Jason Mauk, spokesman for the Ohio Republican Party. "This is a state that has a partisan split right down the middle."
That near 50-50 split in the Ohio electorate, which mirrors the nation's divide, means Ohio voters should once again lead the nation in candidate visits and political ads.
That gives Ohio voters more chances to learn about candidates than voters in non-battleground states, said Eric Rademacher, director of the University of Cincinnati's Ohio Poll.
"I think 2008 is very likely to be a hotly contested race in Ohio," he said. "From a voter perspective, I don't think you can help but like the intensity," he added, noting he got dozens of calls from both sides.
Partisan volunteers say they're ready to re-enlist - to make those phone calls, send out e-mails, host those coffees and knock on their neighbors' doors.
"I am sure that when 2008 rolls around I will be ready to support whoever the party deems should run," said Marcia Smith, 42, of West Chester, who organized a neighborhood "walk for Bush."
Jill Byrd, 30, of Landen, who supported Sen. John Kerry, said she loved seeing the passion and intensity of this campaign. "Even though it didn't turn out our way, it was still pretty amazing to see all those lines, and all those people caring. Four years from now, I'll probably do it again," Byrd said.
Even in Kentucky, not a battleground state, campaign volunteers say they're ready to help.
"Yes, absolutely!" said Michelle Tadaki, 36, of Hebron, who stood outside with signs, made phone calls and canvassed her neighborhood for President Bush. "I feel that grass roots made all the difference this time...
The 2008 election will also feature a rarity in American politics: a truly "open seat" election. It will be the first election since 1952 in which neither a sitting president nor vice president is running, assuming Vice President Dick Cheney sticks with his pledge not to run.
"I think it will once again be a knock down, drag out," said James Gimpel, author of Patchwork Nation, a book on political polarization.
And that's a good thing, in many ways: when an election is close and hard-fought, more Americans get involved, as they did this year.
It can also lead to animosity, said Gimpel, a University of Maryland government professor.
"I see it here in the office," he said. "The Republicans and Democrats here in the office probably won't be speaking to each other for several days."
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