Sunday, June 16, 2024

Hildo: Rhapsody in blue – Fearless predictions in the age of COVID



It’s an election like no other.
     For years we have pointed out that there is no such thing as Election Day anymore. Instead we have Election Season. It started with a bill, championed by Ohio legislators like Toledo’s own Edna Brown, which morphed from no fault absentee voting to full fledged in person early vote.

     Prior to two thousand and five, Ohioans were forced to vote in person on Election Day unless they met certain narrow categories. If you could certify that you were infirm or would be out of your home county, for example, you could apply for an absentee ballot.  

     Such restrictions meant absentee voting was relatively rare, and predictable. Folks who voted absentee once could often be counted on to vote absentee regularly.  They were generally snowbirds, or those living in assisted care, or others who voted absentee year after year.

     Campaigns were largely focused on voters who showed up at polling places on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.  Who would show up where was also relatively predictable.  Voters were registered at specific addresses, and their polling places were set. Voting records could be used to predict who voted only every four years, in elections for president, or every two years, in all federal elections, or every year, in local, state, and federal elections.  Voters could be targeted by election, location, and likelihood of voting in person or absentee.  Campaign mail pieces were timed for the weekend before E Day, and volunteers covered polling places on that day.

It’s a free for all
    Enter no fault absentee and in person early voting.

     Suddenly any registered voter could vote by mail-in ballot without giving a reason. And anyone, in the early days, could show up at the board of elections during the first week of early voting, register, and vote. Talk about unpredictable!  Even those who were not registered could show up and vote, and any registered voter could vote anytime over an entire month.

     Since then, the “golden week” of in person registration and voting at the same time has been eliminated. Only those registered before the early vote period can vote. But there is still a free for all of voting over a month’s time.

     Traditional wisdom about targeting voters is out the window. Who will vote is still relatively predictable based on past voting record, but when, where, and how is much less so.  Political pundits have struggled to update campaign strategy in the face of such unpredictability. When to mail campaign lit, and when and where to target voters is more art than science.

     With the current pandemic, any tentative triangulation of voter targeting is even more out the window. Folks who have regularly voted in person are conscious of social distancing and voting by mail for the first time.  Others don’t trust the mail because of major service disruptions and are voting early in person. Lines at the early vote center have been historically massive.

Blue breaker
    The foregoing narrative has been a long winded disclaimer. Our predictions for E Day are a crappy shoot this year.

     Except for this. Candidates convicted of manslaughter will lose decisively this year, even if their offspring died a hero. Even if said convict blames the victim, his opponent, and the Democratic Party on his proclivity to recidivism.

     Ironic that the local GOP, self described as the party of law and order, replaced their candidate for at-large Toledo council, a retired engineer, with Tony Dia, a retired strip club owner.  With a long history of criminal behavior documented as far back as his early teens.  

     Dia has opined that activists protesting perceived racial bias in the criminal justice system should be run over by semi trucks. He then blamed his conviction of the wanton killing of a fellow teen back in the mid eighties on racial bias in the criminal justice system.  

     Katie Moline, CPA who has never killed anyone, will win easily.

     As will the rest of the local Ds on the ballot.  It will be a deep blue sweep.

     Only one race will be competitive, that for LC Sheriff. Democrat Mike Navarre is well known and well connected. But Independent, albeit life long D, Earl Mack has a veritable volunteer machine of a campaign. His signs are everywhere, and he has had a constant presence surrounding the Early Vote Center. We bet there’s a GOP candidate too, but who cares?

     Our prediction is that Mack wins the city but loses countywide to Navarre. But we doubt that’s his end game.

     Is Mack establishing a brand to run for Toledo mayor in 2021? Hmmmmm…

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