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Unlikely “Running Mates” – Kasich and Obama
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When it comes to presidential pals, Gov. John Kasich is probably best known as a devoted friend and disciple of fellow Republican Ronald Reagan.
Kasich arrived in Washington as a congressman soon after the Gipper entered the White House and enthusiastically joined the crusade to cut taxes and chop federal spending. Thirty years later, Reagan’s gone but Kasich’s still at it.
These days, however, Kasich’s fate seems tied more closely to that of an unlikely partner, Democratic President Barack Obama. That’s not just because Kasich and Obama played golf together last June and then hooped it up at the NCAA tournament in Dayton during March Madness along with British Prime Minister David Cameron.
If results from a recent Quinnipiac University poll hold up, Kasich and Obama could join two other odd couples whose political successes tell a lot about the independence of Ohio voters and the three top issues in any high stakes elections – jobs, jobs and jobs.
Reagan himself was part of one unlikely pair, matched with Democratic Gov. Dick Celeste. Democratic President Bill Clinton and Republican Gov. George Voinovich formed the other odd couple.
Reagan captured Ohio and zoomed to re-election in 1984 while Celeste was leading the Democratic Party through nearly a decade of political dominance.
Democrats bracketed Reagan’s re-election by capturing all statewide executive offices in 1982 and 1986.
Reagan won re-election after Ohio’s unemployment rate had dropped to 9 percent, high by historical standards, but down from a high of nearly 14 percent during the recession of the early 1980s.
Then in 1996, genuine boom times boosted Clinton. When Ohioans went to the polls that November, the jobless rate was at a nearly invisible 5 percent for a sixth straight month. Clinton won Ohio for the second time and earned four more years in the White House. The Democrat’s victory came just two years after Voinovich won re-election by a whopping 72 percent, a modern record.
It’s too soon to know for sure if voters will treat Kasich and Obama the same way, but last month’s poll results for Ohio show movement in that direction.
In a trial run for the November election, Obama defeated Mitt Romney, the likely GOP nominee, 47-41 percent .
Kasich doesn’t face re-election until 2014 but good news from the poll should help him with his ambitious legislative agenda, including higher taxes on shale drilling and a personal income tax reduction.
On Kasich’s job performance, voters split, with 42 percent approving and 42 percent turning disapproving. That’s not so hot unless you compare it to a year ago, when just 30 percent approved.
Ohio’s jobs-jobs-jobs situation has come a long way since then. Unemployment has dipped from nearly 9 percent to 7 and a half percent.
On top of that, the federal government reports Ohio gained more jobs in February than any other state.
Kasich so far hasn’t endorsed anybody for president but he’ll undoubtedly hit the campaign trail for the Republican candidate. The governor, however, also will be rooting for more economic good news, even if it keeps Obama in the White House.