Kasich set to take governor seat

Tony Lange

John Kasich was on his way to being the next governor of Ohio late Tuesday night.

At midnight Kasich had 49 percent of the vote to Democrat incumbent Ted Strickland’s 47 percent with about 90 percent of the votes counted. Minor party candidates had the other 4 percent of the vote. Shortly after midnight, the Associated Press called Kasich the winner.


Kasich hadn’t claimed victory, but spokesman Rob Nichols said “it’s going to be a very, very good night.”


“We feel real good. We knew it was going to be a fairly close race. This is an important election and this is Ohio and races for governor are close,” Nichols said at 11:30 p.m.

The independent voters, which account for 29 percent of the ballots statewide, looked to be the difference. At midnight, 52 percent voted for Kasich while 39 percent voted Strickland, according to exit polls by CNN. The CNN poll showed that 51 percent of men and 45 percent of women voted for Kasich.

Days before the election, Nichols said in an interview that Kasich plans to keep tuition down by asking faculty to teach more courses and universities to combine programs. As governor, Kasich said he will work to eliminate the state income tax.

He also plans to put more money into classrooms and students by funding fewer school buildings or large administrations.

Strickland said his Ohio Evidence Based Model, which Kasich wants to eliminate, already does that.

As late as September, polls showed Strickland as much as 17 percentage points behind Kasich. But Strickland had gained steadily in the polls up to Election Day.

In the final two weeks of October, President Barack Obama made two visits to Ohio in support of Strickland. Previously, Obama made 10 trips to Ohio since his election in 2008.

More than 30 percent of likely voters said they were less likely to support Strickland because of Obama’s efforts, Quinnipiac University Polling Institute pollsters found in mid-October.

Three percent of the 1,356 likely Ohio voters, whom Public Policy Polling pollsters surveyed from Oct. 28 to 30, were still undecided. Nine percent of voters in the 18 to 29 age range were undecided, with 53 percent backing Strickland and 38 percent backing Kasich.

Meggie Wittman, a senior theatre studies major who voted at the Student Recreation and Wellness Center on Tuesday, said unemployment is a focal point in the governor race.

“Jobs is the main focus in the election, so I think that’s what people are looking for,” she said after voting. “People are going to vote for who they think will bring in the most jobs.”

Throughout election season, Republican-funded ads bashed Strickland and blamed him for losing 400,000 Ohio jobs as governor.

Democratic ads claimed national politics were at fault, along with Kasich’s Wall Street values. They said Kasich received $400,000 of bonuses in connection with the Lehman Brothers, which went bankrupt in September 2008, and outsourced jobs to China.

As attack ads aimed at both candidates continued to broadcast, Strickland supporters appeared to pick up steam in the last two months. Strickland’s Democratic supporters increased from 78 to 87 percent, PPP pollsters said.

But that wasn’t enough to win the race.