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August 17, 2004
The Corn People Vs The Northeasterner

The Boston Globe has been working since June with a small focus group of undecided voters in Ohio, arguably one of the two most important swing states in the upcoming election (Florida being the other). At this point, one could expect that the group would be evenly split among the two candidates, much as recent polling shows Ohio to be at this moment. However, the Globe found that Kerry's message has not resonated with its focus group, and three of the five who express any preference lean Bush:

Amy Locy's opinion of the president is not temperate. "I just can't stand George Bush," said the deputy clerk of council of nearby Munroe Falls. ...

Score one for Democratic nominee John F. Kerry?

Not quite. Locy, 39, is still undecided in the presidential race.

You know it's getting bad when Kerry starts having trouble locking in the Bush-hater voters. The Globe finds that the challenger has credibility and message problems in Ohio, that the focus group considers him standoffish, phony, and indecisive. While Ohio has been hard hit by the economy over the past four years, these voters tend not to blame that on George Bush but on market forces. Four of the five support Bush on the war.

But more than anything else, Kerry's style seems to be wearing thin with Ohio voters:

Some in the group questioned Kerry's ability to reach them anyway. The senator is very Northeastern, they said, the kind of candidate who has trouble connecting with ordinary folk. Locy and Beegle felt Kerry was talking down to them, and several in the group said Kerry's selection of North Carolina Senator John Edwards as his running mate was a transparent attempt to give the candidate some common-man bona fides. Locy called Edwards "the plain, normal-folk guy bringing it down to our level so you'll be able to understand this gumball and ice cream cone sensibility, putting it down to a level so we can understand."

"A lot of New England people think Ohio people and this region's people are stupid," said Gaul, who regularly watches the talk show of Boston native Conan O'Brien. "They always make fun of Cleveland, and like this is a corn state. My impression is that New England people often think Midwesterners are stupid."

King said: "They talk like that about people in Ohio, yet we're the deciding vote. What's funny is, the corn people know."

It looks like Kerry will be a tough sell in the Buckeye State, a situation that our friend Hugh Hewitt underscores every chance he gets.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 17, 2004 6:31 AM

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