The state of Ohio has been an elusive target for Democrats during the last two presidential elections. The Democratic Party is optimistic about its chances there in 2008, and the 2006 elections points to clear dissatisfaction among the Buckeye State’s electorate with the Republican Party. In last November’s election:

* Democrats won back the Governor’s mansion (in the midst of a GOP scandal)
* Democrats picked up one U.S. Senate seat
* Democrats picked up one U.S. House seat
* Democrats picked up one State Senate seat
* Democrats picked up six State House seats

Like Ohio, Democrats also experienced a mild renaissance in 2006 in the neighboring state of Kentucky:

* Democrats picked up 1 U.S. House seat
* Democrats picked up 4 State House seats
* Democrats picked up 2 State Senate seats

Next week, Kentuckians will go to the ballot to elect their next governor, and Republican incumbent Ernie Fletcher is down by nearly 25 points in the latest polling to Democrat Steve Beshear (SurveyUSA, October 27-29).

Equally alarming to Republicans is that the job approval ratings of both GOP Senators, Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning, are below 50 percent. McConnell is on the ballot in 2008 and was not originally thought to be vulnerable to an upset, given his powerful position in the Senate, but the Senator currently has a 49 percent job approval rating (SurveyUSA, October 2007). Bunning won his Senate races in 1998 and 2004 by a combined 2 points, and only has a 46 percent approval rating.

Bill Clinton won both Ohio and Kentucky in 1992 and 1996—the former by a combined 8 points and the latter by a combined 4 points. In matchup polls in Ohio, Hillary Clinton currently leads Rudy Giuliani (2 points), Fred Thompson (6 points), Mitt Romney (9 points), and Mike Huckabee (16 points), and is tied with John McCain (SurveyUSA, October 2007).

In Kentucky, Hillary Clinton is leading Giuliani (2 points), Romney (9 points), and Huckabee (10 points), but trails McCain (4 points) and Thompson (2 points) (SurveyUSA, October 2007).

Everything being equal, Republicans still hold an advantage in both of these states, but if Ohio leans Democratic in 2008 as it did in 2006, do not be surprised if Kentucky does the same.