Home Election 2020 The Counter Opinion: A debate in the battleground state

The Counter Opinion: A debate in the battleground state

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The Ohio Democratic Party announced that the fourth Democratic debate will be held in Ohio on Oct. 15 and 16. There are 10 candidates that have qualified for the September and October debates. We asked our opinion writers to discuss Ohio’s battleground-state status and the candidates that did and didn’t make the cut for the next debates. Contributing are Katie Nolan, a junior environmental studies major, Bo Kuhn, a sophomore journalism major, Maddie Kramer, a junior political science major, Charlotte Caldwell, a sophomore journalism major and Zach Richards, a sophomore education major.

Who do you think will win the debate in Ohio?

Katie: Elizabeth Warren has a strong chance of winning in Ohio. She has strong environmental policies regarding agriculture — something that hits home for a lot of Ohioans. She is well-spoken and always knows her audience, so she will no doubt be able to address Midwestern concerns without missing a beat. Bernie Sanders also has a stronghold with the Midwestern states, and Joe Biden is known to be popular in Ohio specifically.


Bo: I think that this is Bernie Sanders’ night to shine. Given his populist rhetoric, not only is Sanders going to speak to the crowd, but he will also speak to the interests of the state as a whole. Although Sanders has struggled in the past to stand out among the myriad of other progressive candidates, the smaller stage may help him stand out.


Maddie: With the debates being on one night, I am very excited to finally see Elizabeth Warren take on Joe Biden. These debates are hard to say who will “win,” per se, especially two months in advance with another debate in September. However, I am hoping to see Biden stumble when debating policy with Warren. Biden has been able to lean on his role as former vice president, while not saying nothing but empty platitudes. This debate has the most potential to see who will rise to the top of the polls and whose numbers will fall. 


Charlotte: Elizabeth Warren might just be the winner of the night in Ohio. Many other candidates that will be on stage, such as Andrew Yang and Joe Biden, seem to always talk in circles with no new talking points. Their answers are just as predictable no matter what question is asked. Warren can answer a range of different topics with more than just a few answers, and she speaks in a way that keeps the viewer interested. American voters want to see a candidate who is confident in their responses and willing to do what it takes once they get into office, which is part of the reason why President Donald Trump was elected.


Zach: This will be Elizabeth Warren’s opportunity to debate Joe Biden, a match that hasn’t happened in the previous rounds of debate. Elizabeth Warren has gained a reputation as a strong debater while Biden’s performance has been more of a mixed bag, so it will be an interesting performance to watch. I expect lots of candidates to attack Biden as he’s the frontrunner, so it will be interesting not only to see how well he defends those attacks but if any of the lower tier candidates attack any of the higher tier candidates besides Biden. As for Ohio, I expect Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg to lean heavily into their status as being candidates from the Midwest and try to make the argument that they can win based on that.

Is Ohio still a battleground state?

Katie: Ohio is definitely still a battleground state. However, Ohio’s gerrymandering problem has worsened over the past several years. In the past, we have seen tighter races between the two parties. However, this election cycle will be more difficult than ever for democrats since Ohio will not be redistricted before 2020. 


Bo: Ohio is still a battleground state. Every November we Ohioans are reminded of this fact when we become inundated with campaign ads for various candidates. The question really comes down to “can democrats speak to the interests of people living in Ohio,” and I think in many ways they still can. I think one strong point democrats can touch on to resonate with Ohio voters is opposition to free trade agreements, like the North American Free Trade Agreement, which is already a point some candidates have picked up, like Bernie Sanders.


Maddie: Ohio is an interesting state, as Ohioans have elected Democrat Sherrod Brown for Senate since 2007, as well as electing Republican Rob Portman since 2011. Just this in and of itself shows that Ohio is truly a purple, battleground state. The fact that this can happen shows there are underlying issues, such as gerrymandering. Ohio is notorious for having the “blue spots” around big cities, such as Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Toledo. These blue spots in a largely red state show that Ohio is still very much split. 


Charlotte: While many analysts may think that Ohio is still “Trump country,” the Democratic candidates are still campaigning hardcore in Ohio well before the voting begins. If the candidates didn’t think there was a chance that Ohio could swing blue, then they wouldn’t be out in full force in every big city they can. Another tell-tale sign that Ohio hasn’t gone completely red is how many times Sen. Sherrod Brown has been elected.


Zach: As the writer of a very well written feature about this exact topic, my personal analysis is that Ohio is definitely in play, but leans heavily toward the Republican party. As meaningless as polls typically are this far out, both the polls taken of the state show Biden leading Trump in the state by a sizable amount, so there is some hope for the democrats. Sherrod Brown was also reelected last year, however, I suspect that he was only able to win because of a strong personal brand that no current democratic candidates have. But I expect that the polls will tighten over time and that Ohio will still likely go for the Republicans. Democrats would do better for themselves focusing more effort on other Midwestern states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Democrats might not win Ohio, but they don’t really need to.

Is there a candidate that you wanted to make the cut but didn’t?

Katie: Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan has not qualified for the October debate in his home state, which would have offered an interesting perspective. Ryan would have special expertise about the needs of Ohioans and it would have been his chance to shine as a knowledgeable candidate. 


Bo: I would’ve really liked to have seen Mike Gravel take the stage at least one time, but he ended his campaign in early August to endorse Bernie Sanders without qualifying for any of the debates. In the 2008 democrat primary, Mike Gravel gained a following on the internet for his loud, boisterous and unorthodox political strategies. His bold progressive stances, such as ending all U.S. foreign intervention, coupled with his unusual way of debating would’ve made him a joy to see on the stage. 


Maddie: I am personally glad that only 10 candidates qualified for the debate as it makes it much easier to watch and compare the candidates when it is only one night. I enjoy watching Julián Castro and Elizabeth Warren and am content with who made the cut and am ready to watch all the candidates on one night. It is important to remember that candidates like Tulsi Gabbard are still running even though she did not qualify for the debate. Kirsten Gillibrand, who also did not qualify, ended her campaign on Aug. 28. 


Charlotte: During the last debate, former Rep. John Delaney made some interesting points, as he was one of the most moderate democrats on the stage. He does not support Medicare for All like most candidates and he was quoted as saying, “we should be the party that keeps what’s working and fixes what’s broken.” He also recognizes that the Democratic party has taken a turn for socialism and that if the party continues this way, they may not be able to beat President Donald Trump in 2020. Delaney might have been moderate enough to be a formidable candidate for Trump, but just like Bernie Sanders in the 2016 election, he won’t even stand a chance in the primaries against more powerful candidates.

Zach: With a historically large field, I think the DNC must find a way to narrow the field down and eliminate some of the more obscure candidates. I don’t think the DNC’s standards were that unreasonable. Two candidates who entered the race as obscure figures with little media coverage — Pete Buttigieg and Andrew Yang — were able to make the debates. Candidates had to meet 2% in just four out of more than 20 polls released by the established pollsters between the second debates and the deadline, as well as 130,000 donors. Although I think the DNC should be more transparent as to why certain polls are qualifying and others aren’t, counting different polls wouldn’t have made that much of a difference. Regardless of my personal feelings about the candidates who didn’t make it, I think it’s more important that the DNC narrow down the field than it is that any individual candidates make the debate.

Please note that these views and opinions do not reflect those of The New Political. 

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