Election Coverage
9:01 am
Fri November 2, 2012

Presidential And U.S. Senate Candidates Cross Paths


As the major party presidential candidates have come through Ohio, their paths have crossed with the candidates in the US Senate race.

That's true for one candidate more than the other, and there are reasons for that. Ohio Public Radio's Karen Kasler explains.


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This moment back in October was unusual for Sherrod Brown….
“The president’s going to be here in just a few minutes – I want to take you back….”


The Democratic incumbent has only appeared at rallies with President Obama five times this year. But on the other side, Republican challenger Josh Mandel has made campaigning with Mitt Romney a somewhat regular occurrence – in Powell near Delaware in August…
“And that’s what this Romney Ryan campaign is all about, changing the people who are leading our country…”


And in coal country that same month, Mandel got an introduction from the candidate himself…
“Josh Mandel, Josh, come on up here and say hello to everybody…”


Mandel has been alongside Romney at some 18 other campaign events in Ohio. It makes sense that Mandel would campaign with Romney more often than Brown with Obama. Mandel is lesser known than Brown, and has a shorter record on which to campaign and fewer long-time supporters to draw on,. But Romney and Obama are very close in the polls – while Mandel and Brown are separated by a gap that’s as big as nine points in a survey released in the last few days. That suggests there’s some coattail campaigning on the Republican side, because some voters are indeed ticket splitting – backing one candidate in the presidential race and supporting another in the Senate race. Ohio University professor and Plain Dealer editorial board member Tom Suddes says it’s almost being encouraged.
“We have this interesting phenomenon of the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Columbus Dispatch both endorsing Gov. Romney for the presidency and both endorsing Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown for re-election. So if editorial pages are split, I have to think that some voters are as well.”


And David Cohen at the Bliss Institute says this isn’t a shocker to him.
“The senator appeals more to especially white working class voters in parts of the state that Barack Obama has a harder time with. And I think it’s very possible that even if Obama were to lose Ohio in a very close race that Brown would retain his seat.”


But Cohen says it seems to be going mostly one way.
“Josh Mandel, for example, being a Jewish candidate from northeast Ohio is probably going to do better with the Jewish vote than a typical Republican candidate would, and so you may see some of those Jewish voters from northeast Ohio and across the state vote for Mandel and then vote for Obama. That is certainly possible. But I don’t think you’re going to have a lot of that.”


But Suddes thinks that ticket splitting may be happening on purpose.
“All of us don’t give other people maybe enough credit for thinking about the question or the point of divided government can be a good guarantee of someone’s liberty being protected, because someone’s watching somebody else pretty closely. So that may well be what happens.”


Suddes says while he doesn’t think there are that many straight-party ticket voters – though the parties certainly encourage that – Ohioans tend to be ticket splitters, so he expects some surprises on election night. But he also cautions that it’s unlikely that there will be major changes in leadership.