CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The presidential campaign season in political bellwether Ohio has not yet kicked into high gear like Iowa with its early caucuses and New Hampshire and South Carolina, with their early in the nation primaries. But the state is going to get a huge of amount of attention next month because the Hamilton County Democratic Party is sponsoring a presidential straw poll. It could offer some strong signals into which top tier contender is really up in this critical state -- Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama or former Sen. John Edwards.
Is it possible there could be a dark horse somewhere within the rest of the field? Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich?
The Hamilton County Dems are calling their Tuesday, Sept. 11 beauty contest the first Presidential Straw Poll sponsored in Ohio by an arm of the Demcratic Party. Balloting take place at the 20th Century, an old movie theater on the city's east side. The theater is in the Oakley neighborhood. Dems are also going to hear from ODP executive director Doug Kelly, and there is going to be a presentation on how to become a convention delegate.
But the big show, no doubt, will be the straw poll. Expect a standing room crowd.
Bottomline: No top tier candidate can afford to take a drubbing because the next-day headlines would be brutal. And might even be fatal. Who wants to be known as a loser in Ohio, the bellwether state, the center of the political universe when it comes to presidential elections?
[UPDATE: 6:50 PM edt -- Just dug into the Bellwether archives and saw that SW Ohioans can be pretty prescient straw pollers. In February, when the national pundits were saying John McCain was the GOP front runner, Hamilton County Republicans picked Rudy Giuliani as their favorite. They gave him a big win during an annual pancake breakfast where a poll is conducted during election years. McCain was crushed in the voting, and the loss now looks like a portent the Arizona senator's presidential campaign was not generating sparks.]
[UPDATE: 8:12 AM edt -- The Plain Dealer's Washington Bureau Chief Steve Koff picked up on the straw poll item and credits the The Bellwether. Ripples are starting spread. Watch to see if the political beauty contest in Cincy becomes one of the more important campaign agenda items in September. No doubt that FOX and CNN and MSNBC will all decide to give it coverage, probably live.]