Political analyst Erin McPike writes on the Real Clear Politics website that Portman "has endured a spate of attacks from Democrats who refer to him as 'the architect of President Bush's economic agenda,' but polling in the state has been trending slowly in his direction nevertheless."
The state's poor economy and high unemployment -- tied (Oregon) for the ninth worst in the country -- is the driving force behind voter flight from the Democrats. But Fisher has also run a disastrous campaign. He has not come up with a substantive plan to spur economic growth and jobs. Advisers and staffers have left his campaign. He has struggled with poor fundraising. He's focused largely on attacking Portman.
"People want to see results, not partisan attacks," Portman says. Speaking earlier this month at an economic development forum in Columbus, Portman said that in talks with business people around the state, "One message comes through clearly: Government has a role to play as a partner -- but government does not create jobs. We need to focus on private sector job growth in Ohio. (Obama's) Cap and trade, health care reform and card check, higher taxes, more regulations and record deficits is not the road to job growth and economic development."
Looking for further evidence that the blame Bush argument isn't working for the Democrats? The Ohio governor's race is Exhibit B. Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, under whose leadership the Ohio unemployment rate has grown progressively worse, is struggling in his bid for a second term against Republican front-runner John Kasch.
Obama has been to the state repeatedly in the past year, visiting businesses he says were helped by his economic stimulus plan, but with little evidence of significant job creation in the last two years.
"Only six percent of Ohio voters describe the economy as good or excellent, while 61 percent rate it as poor," Rasmussen reports. Kasich, who is making the economy and jobs the central focus of his campaign, now leads by eight points, shifting the race from a toss-up to leaning Republican, according to this week's Rasmussen poll. When leaners are added, Kasich's lead rises to 52 percent for the former House Budget Committee chairman and 42 percent for Gov. Strickland.
It is an axiom of American politics that elections are about the future, not the past. Ohioans are going to vote on the economy in November and not on George W. Bush, but in doing so, they will be voting for two of Bush's longtime political allies.
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