"If you act with respect toward the people who disagree with you," Strickland said over the telephone when we finally got around to talking, "they'll give you a break and won't cut you off."
Strickland's political skill only partly explains Ohio's political transformation. A state that voted narrowly for President Bush in 2000 and 2004 not only elected Strickland as governor in 2006 but also sent Sherrod Brown, an economic populist with a far-more liberal public profile, to the United States Senate.
The conversion rate among Ohio voters in just two years was staggering. According to exit polling, 30 percent of Ohioans who voted for Bush in 2004 voted for Strickland in 2006; 20 percent of Bush's 2004 voters supported Brown.
Why the big change? Scandals involving former Gov. Robert Taft and former Rep. Bob Ney made even loyal Republicans squeamish. Strickland won a fifth of self-identified Republicans and a quarter of conservatives, while holding on to more than 90 percent of liberals and Democrats, and roughly 70 percent of moderates and independents. If national Democrats reached such numbers in 2008, they'd win the presidency decisively.
Ronald Reagan turned the nation from majority Dem to majority Pub by doing exactly this. Don't count ANYBODY out. It's easy to say that you're just expanding political opportunism, but I think that it's really about recognizing that if you get elected, you represent everybody, not just the special interests you happen to be in bed with. There's a lot of anger out there in the Republican constituency, and if the Dems will move beyond their narrow, radical agenda and Bush Derangement Syndrome, there are political fields ripe for harvest.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!