Ohio Gov. John Kasich next week will be banking on Ohio voters — including some Democrats who have never voted for him before — to save his presidential candidacy.
A movement seems to be growing among Democratic and independent Ohio voters to vote for the Republican Kasich on March 15 — not necessarily because they love the man, but because they are anxious about the prospects of a Donald Trump presidency.
“I do not want a man like Donald Trump to represent me as an American,” said Carly Black, a teacher from Ashland who describes herself as an independent. She said Trump “epitomizes the arrogance so many people already see in Americans.”
Voters for years have occasionally opted to weigh in on the more interesting primary contest. In some cases, their votes have been “spoilers” — meant to pit their party’s candidate against a weaker candidate during the general election. That was the case in 2008, when conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh urged Republicans to vote for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary in hopes of denying Barack Obama the Democratic nomination.
But this year, the crossover votes seem to be more directed at stopping Trump from getting the nomination, even though many Democrats believe he is the most vulnerable candidate heading into November.
Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges attributes some of the crossover to Kasich’s popularity as a two-term governor. In 2014, Kasich won 86 of 88 counties, including the Democratic strongholds of Lucas, Cuyahoga and Mahoning counties.
“You don’t do that unless you have some crossover appeal,” Borges said.
Some Democrats, too, will vote in the Republican primary because they are drawn to Trump’s candidacy.
Mahoning County Republican Chairman Mark Munroe, who is backing Kasich, says he takes calls nearly every day from Democrats wanting to vote in the Republican primary.
“And nine times out of 10 or 19 out of 20 you get the sense they are doing so because they want to vote for Trump,” he said. “He’s getting Democrats to cross over. But he’s also getting a large number of unaffiliated voters — people who don’t participate in primaries.”
The numbers from Mahoning County seem to bear that out. In the largely Democratic county, which includes the city of Youngstown, 759 of the 8,639 people who asked for absentee ballots were Democrats who requested a Republican ballot. And 1,053 unaffiliated voters also asked for a Republican ballot, Munroe said.
“We could have 4 or 5 or 6,000 new Republicans in Mahoning County,” he said. “Which would be a very significant number.”
In Franklin County, 581 prior Democrats voting absentee have requested the Republican primary ballot. Of the unaffiliated absentee voters, however, more have asked for the Democratic primary ballots: 7,382 to 4,638 Republicans.
Josh Eck, a spokesman for Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, said that in “almost every case” a voter will be given the ballot they ask for, be it Republican or Democrat, no questions asked. In rare instances, he said, if a poll worker knows firsthand that the voter voting Republican is actually a Democrat, they might make them sign an affidavit declaring their party.
“Most poll workers are not going to ask,” he said.
Kristen Dodd of Bay Village, supports Bernie Sanders but says she will be voting for Kasich on Tuesday. Dodd, 43, a career shadow coordinator at a high school, called Kasich “the least offensive of the bunch.”
“I would like to prevent Donald Trump from winning Ohio,” she said.
Gigi Harrison of Shaker Heights said she’ll vote for Kasich for the same reason.
Harrison said she worries that if Trump is elected, the U.S. will become “the laughing stock of the world.”