Once Again, The Economy Is At Top Of Mind For Ohio Voters
Rebecca Sommer is the owner of Sommer House Gallery in Grove City, a Columbus suburb, where she's been custom framing pictures for 30 years. From nailing to mounting, Sommer meticulously goes through every step of the process, even using an air compressor for the finishing touches.
Rebecca and her business partner Thomas Chanine are worried about recovery of their business after the statewide COVID-19 shutdowns. If people are worried about going into the shop, it doesn’t bode well for business.
That's just one reason they are backing Democrat Joe Biden for president. Thomas says he’s the best choice for the economy because he'll take a holistic approach, with a plan that focuses not just on businesses but on public health and social services as well.
"If we are not healthy, we are not productive," Chanine says. "And if we're not productive, we are not getting an income from our work. And if we're not getting an income, we are unable to consume any products, meaning we can't stimulate our economy."
Polls are showing a very tight race between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden in Ohio and both campaigns see the economy as an important issue with voters. But the candidates are taking different approaches to discussing the economy in Ohio.
Chahine's views are not shared by Mike Kovach, owner of City Machine Technologies in northeast Ohio, which provides repair services to large industrial companies. Although the Mahoning Valley is a region with a long history of voting Democratic, Trump's populist message appealed to many business owners and workers there in 2016, flipping several counties red.
"He gets things done," Kovach says. "And he's making a difference, and he's made a difference in our business. We had we really turned around in the first three years of his administration."
Kovach says Trump is the businessman Ohio needs.
"He's a corporate executive," Kovach adds. "He sees the situation, sizes it up, takes input from everyone, and then makes a decision."
Trump's campaign has touted the first three years of his term as a booming economy with increasing wages, a spike in stock markets, and an unemployment rate that hit a 50-year low before the pandemic struck.
Chris Walker, the Trump Victory Campaign's regional communications director, says the president accomplished this by cutting taxes, creating a deregulatory environment, and connecting with everyday people.
"This is a president who has a true relationship with the voters and the people," Walker says. "Again, he was he came in from the outside because voters have been fed up with decades of a Washington establishment."
But critics argue Trump inherited a thriving economy from President Barack Obama's administration, and say the 2020 economy tells a different story. Biden supporters say the economy tanked because Trump played down the severity of COVID-19 and failed to deliver a unified nationwide strategy.
Aside from the coronavirus, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) says Trump spent his years in office placating to large corporations. Brown also says those tax cuts benefited the wealthy, leaving the labor force that helped him get elected in Ohio behind.
"Workers have seen Trump break his promises towards workers, betraying them with this phony populism," Brown said. "And I think Election Day is going to show a lot of people who voted for Trump have been unhappy with this, with how he's governed and always siding with corporate interests over workers."
Sommer, Chahine and Kovach all say the economy will play a pivotal role in the election. Whoever is in the White House next year will set the tone for the country as it attempts to recover from the pandemic and the recession left in its wake.