A two-year-old mistake that devastated the Republican party in Ohio may have enough lingering effect to defeat the GOP again in 1960. President Eisenhower carried the state by an 840,000-vote margin in 1956, but competent observers now give Senator Kennedy anything from a bare edge to a five per cent margin.
When former Republican Gov. C. William O'Neill took office in 1956 behind the Eisenhower sweep, the state was almost entirely Republican, with the notable exception of Sen. Frank Lausche. O'Neill opened his term with a great faux pas unintentionally ignoring Ike's wave at the 1957 inauguration, and committed many more blunders before he was finished.
In 1958, however, leaders of big corporations like Weirton Steel and Timken Bearing insisted that the Republicans run behind the right-to-work amendment. The amendment, which said that employees could not be compelled to join union, drew the violent and almost unanimous opposition of the labor forces, the result that O'Neill, after defeating Michael V. DiSalle by 450,000 votes in 1956, lost by the same number two years later.
In this year's primary elections, Democrats outnumbered Republicans, 737,623 659,268. The Democratic power is still centered in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. Where Kennedy men predict a 250,000 margin, but DiSalle's home town of Toledo is also expected to be a strong point. Even in the predominantly Republican areas around Columbus and Cincinnati, the considerable Catholic population give the Democrats a respectable second place.
Ray Dorsey, political writer for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, says, "Both Nixon and Kennedy were well received in Ohio. The Kennedy crowds were more enthusiastic--you'd expect a concentration of Democratic voters in the large urban Dorsey he visited. Still, Nixon drew a very good crowd in Cleveland, and filled public Hall."
Lausche, a notorious maverick, has come out unenthusiastically for Kennedy, Dorsey reports, and has issued "a statement agreeing more with Nixon than with Kennedy on Quemoy and Matsu." Dorsey says, "I don't believe he affects the people much." In Dorsey's opinion, smaller industrial towns south of Cleveland will hold the key to the election.
Canton, Ohio, is such a city. A town of about 120,000, it attracted both Nixon and Kennedy this fall. Canton is a steel town, and Darrell Mansell, editorial writer for the Canton Repository says, "This is a strong union area, not in a happy condition. There are a lot of short work weeks, lay-offs, and discontented people." According to Mansell, Eisenhower's "hero" status was a great advantage in Canton and Stark County, but "the New Deal made Canton Democratic."
With the Democratic appeal to labor and the excellent record of DiSalle's administration going for him, Mansell says, Kennedy should take Canton by a healthy margin. "An issue we do not permit to be discussed in the Repository," religion, should also work in Kennedy's favor in Cuyahoga County and the southern part of the state, Mansell says.
"The moderate, well-to-do suburbanite," a type on the increase in Ohio, could confound a lot of polsters, Mansell predicted. "The Republicans have had a hard time pinning him down, and the Democrats won't get to first base."
The only state-wide office being contended is that of auditor. The incumbent, James A. Rhodes, is practically the only remnant from the Republicans' said days, and is seeking his fifth term