From the Heartland

Could Kerry have won Ohio?

A sadness has set in. Throughout my small town in southeastern, Appalachian Ohio, people ask, “How’s it going?” Typically you hear, “Could be better.” Most skulk away after saying this; few need elaboration. Some neighbors can’t bring themselves to tear down their Kerry/Edwards yard signs. There’s even nostalgia for the morning of November 3, when we learned Bush led in our state but that provisional ballots hadn’t been counted. The hope, odd as it seems now, was to become the next Florida. Then the hope died, and it was final. A president who led us into war without planning for the peace and who relished handing money back to the rich was reelected.

Perhaps we should have been better prepared for this. But as with the divide between red and blue states, divisions exist within states. My county (Athens) voted overwhelmingly for Kerry. Though I was calling and visiting voters in outlying, rural regions and sensing that things weren’t going well, so much else needed to be done and worried about. It’s hard to pull yourself out of campaign mode and get a sense of the whole picture. Now’s the time.

The life of a Kerry campaign worker or volunteer in Ohio was a roller coaster. Things went our way, then didn’t. For instance, we registered many new voters. Then Secretary of State Ken Blackwell threatened to discard those registrations recorded on the wrong paper stock. He also threatened to throw out certain...

To read the rest of this article please login or become a subscriber.

About the Author

Kevin Mattson is the author (most recently) of When America Was Great: The Fighting Faith of Postwar Liberalism (Routledge).