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Congress: Still up for grabs in 2012

Posted By Ellen Ratner On 10/30/2011 @ 5:00 pm In Commentary | Comments Disabled

In a year and eight days, the 2012 presidential election will be over.

Speculation on who is join got win has replaced the NBA games as the featured sport in Washington, D.C.

Will Obama win? I believe he will, but the more important question is who will win the congressional races.

With congressional ratings being at a low point (between 9-13 percent approval rate), it is interesting that so many people hate Congress but like “their” member of Congress.

Why? It is hard to not like the person who you see in your district, showing up at school events, having town halls or even handing out literature at the local grocery store. Congress as a whole may be terrible, but “your” member is someone who cares. It may be hard to vote someone out who seems likable in your neighborhood.

Real Clear Politics, a site which holds the attention of the political establishment every four years, currently has the Senate in a tossup as to who holds the majority and the House as still firmly staying in Republican hands. However, as Ben Franklin supposedly said, “A week is a long time in politics.”

The economic problems of our country are huge, and the solutions are not easy to reach. If you look at Ohio as a microcosm of our country, you are seeing exactly of how fluid the elections might be. First, Ohio has yet to fully finalize the redistricting from the 2010 Census. With the election 53 weeks away, it is hard to really know who might run and, therefore, who might win.

It looks like Ohio may be subject to a voter referendum on the redistricting map. That changes things considerably, making primaries closer to the election and, depending on the
outcome, changing what would be a delegation that favors Republicans a very unsure thing. This week, the chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, Chris Redfren, said, “The certification of the signatures and petition language should give Republicans even more reason to sit down with Democratic leadership right away to draw new and fair maps. If they refuse to compromise,
there is no doubt that we can collect the number of signatures necessary to send this unfair, gerrymandered map to the voters.”

Ohio is also having labor fights relating to public unions and collective bargaining. Although not quite the fight we have witnessed in Wisconsin, it has been pivotal to state policies and the political process. It has taken its toll on the John Kasich, the governor. One poll had his approval rating at 33 percent. That means that the registered Republicans support him, but the guy in the middle and the Democrats do not. You can’t win an election with just your base. A state government that does not have support of its citizens is going to make it difficult for members of that party to get re-elected. People voting may like their member of Congress and vote
for him or her, even if they don’t like Congress. However, a state government of the same party that is disliked can lead to someone staying home or not voting for an unpopular party candidate.

If Ohio is any example, the makeup of Congress is far from decided. It is a situation that can change at a moment’s notice. Ohio has had the reputation of “So goes Ohio, So goes the nation.” One recent article said, “So goes the nation, so goes Ohio.”

Whichever way you put it, Ohio is a bellwether state. It means that no matter what the polling says, Ohio can change in everything from its district lines to who is going to win its elections. Congress is by no means a done deal in 2012. If Ohio is any indication, we have a long year ahead of us.


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