For the GOP in Ohio, despair and a glimmer of hope

The party's candidates for Senate and for governor trail by double digits, but there's still time for a fix.

Published October 18, 2006 1:00PM (EDT)

How badly are things going for the Republicans in Ohio? The New York Times says that the Buckeye State is looking like "hostile terrain" for the GOP. A new New York Times/CBS News poll has Ohio voters saying that Republicans are more corrupt than Democrats and that Democrats will do better when it comes to improving job prospects in their struggling economy. The president's job approval ratings have plummeted in the state, even among evangelical Christians. And Republican Sen. Mike DeWine and Republican gubernatorial candidate Kenneth Blackwell both trail their Democratic opponents by double-digit margins.

How badly are things going for the Republicans in Ohio? CQPolitics has just moved its rankings on four races, all in the Democrats' direction. The Senate race between DeWine and Sherrod Brown is now in the "leans Democratic" category. The governor's race between Blackwell and Democratic Rep. Ted Strickland is now in the "Democrat favored" category. The House race between Republican Rep. Jean Schmidt and Democrat Victoria Wulsin has just moved from "Republican favored" to "leans Republican," and the House race between Republican Rep. Pat Tiberi and former Democratic Rep. Bob Shamansky has shifted from "safe Republican" to "Republican favored."

Is there any hope for Republicans in Ohio? Oh, yeah. There are still almost three weeks to go until Election Day. There's the statewide rollout of electronic voting machines and a new requirement that voters show an I.D. at the polls. And then there's this: As the Times reported Tuesday, Republicans have filed a petition arguing that Strickland, the Democrats' candidate for governor, should be disqualified from the ballot because of questions about which Ohio home he actually calls home. A local elections board has split on the petition in a 2-2 party-line vote, and it now goes to the Office of the Secretary of State -- the one that just happens to be run by Strickland's opponent, Kenneth Blackwell.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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