Republicans flock to Ryan

On the side

Grading the candidates: The Buckeye Firearms Association, a guns-rights political action committee, gave letter grades to candidates throughout the state running for elected office in the fall, based on their votes on gun issues.

Among the locals, state Sen. Capri Cafaro, D-32nd, received an A. Her Republican challenger, Nancy McArthur, also got an A, but her grade was based solely on a questionnaire she filled out.

In the 64th Ohio House District race, state Rep. Tom Letson, the Democratic incumbent, received a D while Randy Law, his Republican challenger and former House member, got an A.

In the 59th Ohio House District race, state Rep. Ronald V. Gerberry, the Democratic incumbent, got a C minus, and his Republican challenger, Kimberly Poma received a C.

State Rep. Robert F. Hagan, D-60th, got a D. Something tells me that Hagan is probably disappointed with his grade, probably preferring an F.

Large crowds for vice presidential candidates don’t necessarily translate into votes.

Rallies featuring Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, drew large crowds during that campaign, but she and John McCain, the GOP presidential nominee four years ago, didn’t win.

A perfect example is a Sept. 16, 2008, rally with McCain and Palin — the latter was definitely the main attraction — at the Winner Aviation hangar at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport in Vienna. The event had a crowd of about 7,000 yet the Republican ticket received only 37.4 percent of the Trumbull County vote.

But from what I saw in the past week, there is an enthusiasm gap among Democrats for Vice President Joe Biden compared to Republicans for Paul Ryan, that party’s vice presidential nominee, in the key swing state of Ohio.

During the 2008 campaign, Biden wasn’t much of an attraction in the Democratic-dominated Mahoning Valley.

A Sept. 18, 2008, outdoor event with Biden in downtown Youngstown had a crowd of about 1,200. He’s never approached that modest number again.

On Oct. 14 of that year, another outdoor rally with Biden attracted only 700 to the Warren Community Amphitheatre.

During the 2012 campaign, Biden’s rally on May 16 at Youngstown’s M7 Technologies in Youngstown had about 650 in the audience. The crowds were typically smaller when he went to southern Ohio after the Youngstown stop.

When Biden spoke at the United Auto Workers Local 1714 union hall in Lordstown last Friday, the day after the Republican National Convention, there were about 250 people there. I knew about 50 of them by name as they were politicians or local labor leaders.

Maybe, like fictional rock band Spinal Tap, Biden’s appeal to Democrats has “become more selective.”

Yes, Biden had a lot of people around him when he attended the Canfield Fair after the UAW hall speech. But except for a few political insiders, no one else knew he’d be there. Few, if any, went to the fair specifically to see him.

In comparison, Ryan, the Republican vice presidential nominee, spoke at a rally in Westlake, an affluent Cleveland suburb, on Monday, the day before the Democratic National Convention officially started.

The cheers from about 2,200 packed into the Westlake Recreation Center when Ryan hit the stage was deafening. Ryan comes across as comfortable, confident and relaxed in front of a friendly crowd. I had to park about one mile away from the center even though I got there more than two hours before Ryan’s speech.


Ryan is new to Ohio, and the novelty may wear off.

Maybe he’ll continue to be popular in Republican parts of Ohio or not. Perhaps he’ll be a success or a failure in Democratic regions of the state.

But I never saw Biden generate that same level of excitement among Democrats either in 2008 or this year.

That lack of enthusiasm for Biden didn’t impact Barack Obama’s success in Ohio when he won the presidency four years ago. I doubt it hurts Obama in Ohio during this election, but it doesn’t help.

Don't Miss a Story

Sign up for our newsletter to receive daily news directly in your inbox.