Sunday, August 7, 2016

Trump and Clinton Swap Voters in Ohio

From Cathleen Decker, at LAT, "In complicated Ohio, Trump and Clinton swap voters as they vie for a key state":
No state this year does Republican dysfunction like Ohio.

The popular Republican Gov. John Kasich stiffed Donald Trump at the home-state convention and now regularly dismisses him on Twitter. Trump has threatened to retaliate by raising money to squash Kasich’s future ambitions.

The state’s Republican Sen. Rob Portman, running for re-election, has stuck with his endorsement of the party’s nominee but has yet to appear in public with him. Instead, Portman has upbraided Trump repeatedly, and his campaign recently sent aides to search for potential supporters at Hillary Clinton rallies.

All that would be merely familial squabbling if not for Ohio’s frequent role as the decider in presidential contests. It is a must-win state for Trump; a loss here would almost certainly deny him the presidency and secure the White House for Clinton.

It is also a high-profile test of the contours of the national campaign, as both Trump and Clinton have a good chance here of stealing from the other party’s usual voters.

Clinton is going after Republican-leaning suburbanites put off by Trump’s demeanor and is trying to persuade blue-collar white voters that Trump is a hypocrite on trade and business issues.

Trump has set his sights on those blue-collar Democrats with a campaign heavy on expressions of grievance for decades of manufacturing declines. He’s also courting Republicans eager for change after two Democratic White House terms.

“Both campaigns are probably spending time watching some of their traditional voters run away and watching others run to them,” said Doug Preisse, a Columbus-based Kasich confidant who heads the Republican Party in Franklin County, which includes Columbus.

The most recent public polling has the race dead even in the state — but that survey was conducted weeks ago, during the Republican convention. Even Republicans suggest that Clinton has likely pulled ahead here, as she has in nearby industrial states and nationally since the end of her convention.

But few expect Ohio to deviate in November from its recent record of close contests.

“It’s winnable for both candidates. The question is who has the superior ground game and strategy,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, whose July poll had Clinton and Trump deadlocked at 44% each. “It’s going to be fought in hand-to-hand combat in a lot of these counties.”

If so, Trump could be hard-pressed. Organizationally, Clinton has the upper hand. Her team barely left after the March primary; the candidate and her running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, have been regular visitors.

Clinton is building on multiple winning streaks: former President Bill Clinton’s wins here in the 1990s, President Obama’s two general election wins, and her own primary victories in 2008 and this spring.

Her team has hundreds of workers in the state, and in her visit here Sunday, Clinton advertised more openings for organizers. The campaign is canvassing supporters and registering voters in communities across the state this weekend.

Trump’s campaign has been slower to form, a danger in a state where early ballots can be cast starting Oct. 12 — just a little more than two months away. The campaign’s new state director began work on June 23, well after Clinton’s chief strategist set up shop; only last week he was moving into an office in Columbus...
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