Capitol Report – A mere 537 votes!

By State Representative, Leon D. Young

Leon D. Young

Can you imagine how the course of American political history might have been altered had George W. Bush not been elected president?

Back in 2000, George W literally stole the White House amid the “hanging chad” controversy in Florida and the subsequent refusal by the U.S. Supreme Court to get involved in resolving the dispute.

By most empirical measures, the 2000 presidential election was virtually a dead- heat. Then Texas governor, George W. Bush, and his running mate, Richard Cheney received 271 Electoral College votes; while, Vice President Albert Gore, Jr. and Joseph Lieberman garnered 266 votes in the Electoral College.

There is wide consensus that this year’s presidential election will be a dog fight to the very end, and the importance of capturing Ohio’s 18 electoral votes will be paramount. This is especially true (and essential) for Mitt Romney’s prospects, in light of this one historical fact: no Republican has ever been elected President without winning Ohio.

The buzz that Mitt Romney had finally bridged the gap with President Obama in Ohio dialed down in a hurry this week after yet another poll showed the incumbent [Barack Obama] maintaining – and slightly expanding – his lead in this must-win state. According to the recent survey by Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP), President Obama is leading Romney 51 percent to 47 percent.

The President’s lead in the latest PPP survey was up from a 49 percent to 48 percent margin a week ago – and in line with CNN and Time polls that continue to show the President ahead in Ohio . Some are beginning to speculate that it’s starting to look like President Obama might have turned the corner with his wins in the second and third debates.

But, Ohio should be very fertile ground politically for the incumbent president for a number of reasons. First, the president’s gutsy decision to rescue the car industry (General Motors and Chrysler) saved thousands of jobs. The American auto industry supports one in eight jobs in this state or, stated differently, an estimated 850,000 Ohio jobs are tied to the car industry. Second, Ohio ’s unemployment rate is more than a full percentage point below the national average (7.2 percent). So, most Ohioans have not felt the full effect of the economic downturn that continues to grip this country.

And lastly, President Obama shrewdly imposed tougher trade restrictions against China that stemmed the flood of cheap foreign tires coming into this country. American tire companies (Firestone, BF Goodrich, Goodyear and Michelin) are now better able to compete in the marketplace which, in turn, means that thousands of American jobs in the tire industry were saved in Ohio.

As an elected official, I often hear constituents lament, “my vote doesn’t matter.” Nothing could be further from the truth – especially if you live in Wisconsin, Ohio or any of the other battleground states.

In 2000, a mere 537 votes allowed George W. Bush to assume the reins of presidential authority. The 2012 race is far too close and far too important to stay home, and run the risk of another neo-Conservative (Mitt Romney) taking this country back 50 years.

Get Out and Vote!