The map on the front page of Sunday’s Vindicator carried the headline “Battleground: Ohio” and showed how Democrat Barack Obama defeated Republican John McCain in the Buckeye State in 2008.
But if a map were to be drawn of the 2010 election in which Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland lost his bid for a second term to Republican John Kasich — albeit by a slender margin — the picture would not be as encouraging to Democrats.
To be sure, the turnout was a lot greater in ’08 than two years ago, but the fact remains that the traditional Democratic voters — labor union members, teachers and blacks — stayed home. Why? Because the tepid recovery of the national economy, coupled with a disenchantment with the president, have put Ohio in the toss-up column in the November general election.
Polls show Obama and Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, running neck-and-neck, which means that Democratic Party leaders, especially in the northeastern part of the state —Mahoning and Trumbull counties in particular — must find a way of energizing the base.
The visit last week to Youngstown by Vice President Joe Biden was a start, but the president cannot rest assured that this heavily Democratic region will turn out in the numbers he needs to overcome what will be a huge Republican vote in GOP strongholds.
Obama must reconnect with the people who put him in office, especially young voters who today are struggling to find work. His presence in the Mahoning Valley will go a long way in achieving that goal.