As Goes Ohio…

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Via Drum and Sirota, Sherrod Brown says “anybody that runs for the president will have to go through Ohio, literally and figuratively.” That means “that doesn’t just want to increase the minimum wage” but also favors “different trade policy, standing up to the drug industry, taking on the oil industry.”

This is one of the weirder consequences of the way the American method of electing presidents gives votes to states rather than people. Given the election outcomes in 2004 and 2000, Democratic strategy is bound to focus on swinging either Ohio or Florida into the “blue” column. Economic conditions in those two states are, however, quite different. Ohio has a very large manufacturing sector and Florida has a relatively small one. Population growth in Ohio has been anemic, rising from 10,652,017 in 1970 to 11,464,042 35 years later. Florida has been growing like gangbusters from 12.9 million in 1990 to 18 million in 2005. Meanwhile, even throughout a period of rather sluggish labor market conditions, there’s been rapid job growth in Florida.

The thing of it is that neither state is particularly reflective of economic conditions throughout the country as a whole. Nevertheless, the remorseless logic of the electoral college dictates that one pick one state or the other and tailor an entire nationwide message to its peculiarities — a dour one focused on de-industrializing for Ohio, or an optimistic one focused on the possibilities of the service economy for Florida. The 2006 Ohio GOP meltdown tends to imply an Ohio strategy rather than a Florida one, and thus we may in effect see an entire nationwide approach to the politics of the economy de facto substantially determined by the “coingate” scandal, which, wouldn’t seem like the sort of thing to have such dramatic implications.