As the Presidential race heads into THE Swing State of Ohio Tuesday, Republicans are facing the possibility of a Rick Santorum victory. Just this week the most respected poll in the state, the University of Cincinnati’s Ohio Poll, showed Santorum up eleven points over Governor Romney.
This can’t happen. Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican nominee; always has been. He’s the only A-list candidate who showed up this cycle and the only candidate with a shot to win in November. The longer we flirt with Bachman/Perry/Cain/Gingrich/Santorum/Player to Be Named Later the less likely it becomes that we can defeat President Obama.
The concern with Romney losing Ohio is that the Buckeye State (where I lived my first 27 years—Go Bucks!) has long been a barometer of the rest of the nation. The demographics, economics, and political makeup of Ohio mirror the nation’s and as they say: As Ohio goes, so goes the nation. No Republican has EVER won the White House without winning Ohio.
Whatever problems Romney is having in Ohio will be reflected nationally—that’s why Ohio is always so important. Ohio Republicans, like those across the country, are having a tough time relating to Romney. We just can’t warm up to him. And Santorum looks a lot more like Ohio Republicans than Romney. He’s a socially conservative, blue collar Everyman.
In Northeast Ohio (Akron-Canton, Youngstown, Cleveland) there’s a lot of union Republicans and ethnic Catholics. In Southwest Ohio (Cincinnati) and the rural West, social conservatives and evangelicals vote more consistently than the rest of the state. These are all Santorum’s people.
But Ohio also has a lot of the most important demographic: Republicans who can’t wait to vote the President out of office. In an Ohio Poll released today he has just 13% approval among Republicans.
That’s why, short of an Urban Meyer or favorite (adopted) son Arnold Schwarzenegger endorsement, Romney needs to make the case to Ohio Republicans that he is the only candidate with a shot to beat the President. Winning Ohio will make his road to the White House much easier.