Things look bad for the Ohio Republicans right now but they brought this down on themselves. No one action has contributed to the approaching downfall. Instead this is a culmination of several long-term trends.
Much of the blame can be laid on the RINOs. For some time Ohio has been in the grip of RINOs (Republicans In Name Only). While congratulating themselves on being moderates, they stand for very little. There is no platform, or even a single issue which can be identified with the RINOs. They have run past campaigns on a no-new-taxes platform but they hate to cut taxes and Governor Taft has raised taxes in several ways during his term.
Over the last several years Ohio has seen its industrial base decline. The RINOs response to this was to raise taxes. The result is that Ohio is near the top of the list of states when ranked by tax burden. at the same time, it is near the bottom of states that are friendly to business (mainly because of the tax burden).
All of this has led to an Ohio economy that is stagnant with little chance of short-term improvement.
While it is possible to blame Governor Taft for his lack of leadership, the problems go deeper than that. Taft is governor because the Republican party decided that he should be rather than Blackwell. Their reasoning was that 1) it was Taft's "turn", 2) they owed the Taft family, 3) the Taft name was golden in Ohio and 4) Taft was part of the statehouse Republican crowd and Blackwell was an outsider. They ignored the fact that Taft was a poor Secretary of State. Regardless of this, they viewed Taft as the safe candidate who would continue Voinovich's uninspired example.
All of this has backfired. Voinovich left some major problems behind including school funding and declining revenues. Taft was not up to the challenge. Also, as part of the Republican insiders, he allowed lobbyist Noe to use state funds as his personal bank account. The scandal resulting from this is dragging down Republicans in other states as well as Ohio.
The previous governor, Voinovich, wasn't much better. He acted more like the nanny-in-chief than governor, using the state's power to protect its citizens and make sure that their money was spent properly. When the state accumulated a surplus he refused to take this as a sign that taxes were too high, instead suggesting that spending wasn't high enough.
The problem is that Ohio's republicans might be RINOs but there is little hope that our Democrats are DINOs (Democrats In Name Only). Northern Ohio has always been home to highly progressive Democrats. These people are playing to their base of union workers. Their economic model is stuck in the 1930s and they are likely to bring back the Great Depression in Ohio.
My wife and I have discussed where we should live when we retire. Should we stay in Ohio or move elsewhere? Previously we have considered moving closer to some of our interests. Last night, for the first time, my wife wondered about the economic future of living in Ohio. This election is not going to make her feel any better about it.