What a difference two years and Republican dictatorial rule in Columbus make.
The predominantly Democratic Mahoning and Trumbull counties came through for President Barack Obama, but it wasn’t just his unwavering support of the American manufacturing, especially the auto industry, that gave him the margin of victory he needed in the two countries in order to carry the key battleground state of Ohio.
Republican Gov. John Kasich and the Republican controlled General Assembly must accept blame for the labor unions and their Democratic allies rising up last year against the GOP’s attack on collective bargaining.
In the 2010 election that saw Republicans take control of every statewide office, including governor, blue-collar workers who traditionally vote Democratic stayed home or supported the Republican ticket.
This, despite the fact that Kasich had made it known during the 2010 campaign that he believed the public- sector unions had become too powerful. He also signaled that making Ohio a right-to-work state would be on his agenda if he were elected governor.
Last year’s law aimed at curbing public employees’ collective-bargaining rights was a kick in the pants for Democrats who had withheld their support for Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland.
Last night’s vote in Mahoning and Trumbull counties must have been bittersweet for Strickland. He served as a national co-chairman for Obama’s re-election and was a consistently harsh critic of Gov. Kasich and the GOP-dominated Legislature.
But as he watched the returns come in, Strickland had to have felt a twinge of regret that the Democratic strongholds of Mahoning and Trumbull counties did not turn out for him in 2010 the way they did for Obama.
The 73,536 complete but unofficial votes the president received in Mahoning County did not match the 79,173 he got in 2008 when as the first black major party nominee he had the chance to make history. It also helped then that his Republican opponent was veteran U.S. Sen. John McCain, a true American hero who just could not ignite the passions of the electorate.
In Trumbull County, Obama’s 55,404 votes (with 188 of the 210 precincts reporting) last night was less than the 64,145 votes he received four years.
But where McCain had difficulty gaining traction in Ohio — the statewide result was 51.5 percent for Obama against 47 percent for McCain, a difference of 262,224 votes — the Republican nominee this year, Mitt Romney, gave the incumbent a run for his money.
Obama won Ohio by the skin of his teeth, which is why Mahoning and Trumbull counties have earned the right to take a bow.
As for the Republicans, their control of state government will continue to be an impediment — if they continue their seemingly extremist policies.
The message from Obama’s win last night, and from U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s manhandling of his Republican opponent, state Treasurer Josh Mandel, was this: The 2010 election was not a reflection of Ohio becoming a red state, but because Democrats failed to show up for the statewide election.