Few would dispute the notion that Republican President Donald J. Trump and Democrat former President Barack Obama make the strangest of bedfellows. On virtually every public policy issue imaginable, the two stand universes apart.
But on one key contemporary issue, the two men are in lockstep with each other. Both argue that Tuesday’s general election across the United States ranks as one of the most critical mid-term elections in American history.
At a campaign rally in Las Vegas recently, Obama said, ““Look, this November’s elections are more important than any I can remember in my lifetime, and that includes when I was on the ballot. … This is the most important election.”
Likewise, Trump, when choosing to stick to his script in his flurry of pre-midterm campaign rallies, has made essentially the same claim: “ So, your vote in 2018 is every bit as important as your vote in 2016 [for president].”
Both men are correct. The proof is in the astonishingly high levels of energy among the electorate as gauged by surprisingly high levels of early voting in our region, state and nation.
As of early last week, more than 30 million Americans had cast early ballots ahead of Tuesday’s election, far eclipsing the total of all early votes in the last similar round of midterms in 2014.
That same trend sticks locally as well. More than 50,000 residents of Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties have cast early ballots, more than 33 percent higher than levels in 2014. Boards of Elections directors in the Valley predict turnout totals nearing 60 percent of the electorate by the time polls close Tuesday night. Voter turnout for the 2014 midterms in the Valley eked out at about 40 percent.
Driving this interest, of course, is the competitive battles here and elsewhere for control of the U.S. Congress and the direction this nation will take over the next two years.
Also high on Ohioans’ radar is the neck-and-neck battle between Democrat Richard Cordray and Republican Mike DeWine for governor and the hotly debated statewide constitutional issue to rewrite state drug statutes.
Locally, voters in Mahoning and Trumbull counties will be selecting county commissioners, judges, state representatives, a state senator and will be deciding the funding fate for some key social-service agencies and for more than a dozen local school districts.
Thus, we urge residents of the Mahoning Valley to responsibly cast ballots in Tuesday’s general election. As usual, polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Early voting at boards of election will end at 2 p.m. today.
The Vindicator’s commitment to elections is long-standing. We spend hours in endorsement meetings with candidates for office and with representatives of major ballot issues. Based on what we learn, in those interviews and elsewhere, we issue endorsements. Here is a summary of our recommendations for races and issues that we explained in greater detail in editorials in this space over the last four weeks:
OHIO GOVERNOR: Democrat Rich Cordray.
OHIO ATTORNEY GENERAL: Republican Dave Yost.
OHIO SUPREME COURT JUSTICES: Michael Donnelly and Mary DeGenaro.
U.S. SENATE: Democrat Sherrod Brown.
U.S. HOUSE 6th DISTRICT: Republican Bill Johnson.
U.S. HOUSE 13th DISTRICT: Democrat Tim Ryan.
STATE ISSUE 1: NO
STATE REPRESENTATIVE 58th DISTRICT: Democrat Michele Lepore-Hagan.
STATE REPRESENTATIVE 59th DISTRICT: Democrat Eric Ungaro
STATE REPRESENTATIVE 63rd DISTRICT: Democrat Glenn Holmes.
STATE REPRESENTATIVE 64th DISTRICT: Democrat Michael O’Brien.
MAHONING COUNTY COURT JUDGE: J.P. Morgan.
7th DISTRICT COURT OF APPEALS JUDGE: David D’Apolito
MAHONING MENTAL HEALTH BOARD LEVY: Yes
MAHONING CHILDREN SERVICES: Yes.
TRUMBULL COUNTY COMMISSIONER: Democrat Frank Fuda.
MAHONING COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT RENEWAL LEVIES: Boardman Local, Poland Local, South Range Local.
TRUMBULL COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT RENEWAL LEVIES: LaBrae Local, Lakeview Local, Liberty Local, Maplewood Local, Niles City, Southington Local.
YOUNGSTOWN CHARTER AMENDMENTS ELIMINATING TERM LIMITS FOR COUNCIL MEMBERS and president: No.
YOUNGSTOWN DRINKING WATER PROTECTION BILL OF RIGHTS: No.