CLEVELAND -- Jess Goode is a casually dressed, laconic young political professional toiling to deny George W. Bush Ohio's 20 electoral votes. Goode is getting help from Ohio Republicans, who disapprove of Democrats but seriously dislike each other.
Goode worked for a Democratic congressman until becoming a state administrator of America Coming Together, a get-out-the-(Democratic)-vote organization funded by Virtuous Money. The $14.5 million that George Soros, the billionaire anti-Bush obsessive, has given to ACT is not the Sinful Money that liberal campaign finance reformers want to banish from politics.
On a normal day, ACT is paying $8 to $10 an hour to 200 or so persons whose job -- Goode says most are doing it for the money, not because of political passion -- is to register likely Democratic voters, more than 60,000 so far. In 2000, Bush carried the state by 165,019 votes.
In mid-October 2000, the Gore campaign went off the air in Ohio so it could spend elsewhere, especially in Florida. Election eve polls showed him losing badly, but the margin was only 3.5 percent. The polls had not properly identified ``likely" voters. The uncertain effectiveness of ACT, and of both parties' machinery for getting their voters to the polls, makes polling this year particularly problematic.
Another Ohio uncertainty is the fallout from fierce fighting among Republican factions and their gubernatorial candidates for 2006. One candidate to succeed Gov. Bob Taft, who is term-limited, is Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, an African- American who in 2000 supported Steve Forbes' presidential candidacy.
Blackwell says that in the 1990s an average of 1,000 Americans moved from a high-tax state to a low-tax state every day, and today, every 24 hours 250 Ohioans become Floridians. He says Ohio's 71 percent increase in spending led all states over the last 10 years. He is furious that Taft and the Republican-controlled Legislature, collaborating with public employees unions and violating repeated promises to submit such increases to a referendum, passed a $3 billion tax increase. This included a 20 percent increase in the sales tax, which was annoyingly broadened to apply to such things as manicures and satellite television.