Portman Makes Push for Student Voters in Ohio
Sen. Rob Portman launched a new coalition of college student supporters from different universities around Ohio Monday as a way to organize and reach a key demographic for his re-election campaign.
In a release shared Monday with RealClearPolitics, the campaign announced student chairs at 18 different schools, including The Ohio State University, one of the largest public universities in the country. The pitch to student voters also included a sponsored Instagram ad – the first time a Senate campaign has sponsored an advertisement on the popular social media app, according to the release.
The ad was launched over the weekend to coincide with the first home football game for the Ohio State Buckeyes, the top-ranked team in the country, and featured four students doing the popular O-H-I-O pose outside the football stadium, with a link to join the newly launched student initiative. The campaign said other ads targeted at different colleges in the state will run later in the week.
Portman’s campaign manager, Corry Bliss, said the campaign had 200 students making door-to-door visits and phone calls to thousands of potential supporters over the summer. Bliss said the coalition would be “an important part of our campaign moving forward and we're excited to work with these students to ensure that Rob Portman's message reaches students across Ohio during this campaign.”
In addition to the new coalition and Instagram ads, the campaign launched a minute-long video featuring students from different schools throughout the state telling why they support the Republican senator, which will run on Facebook and Twitter. The social media blitz is a way for Portman to connect with young voters who were under 18 when he was last elected five years ago, and were teenagers during the years his likely opponent, Ted Strickland, was governor of the state. Those voters will be critical for Portman’s campaign: He won a landslide victory during the 2010 Republican wave, but Democrats generally vote in much higher numbers in presidential election years.
“Ohio has some of the best colleges and universities in the country, and I’m honored to have such a great group of young Ohioans supporting our campaign,” Portman said in a statement. “Ohio graduates shouldn’t be forced to leave our state to find good jobs and opportunities.”
All of the advertisements – and the statements from the students joining the campaign – focus around a single message: jobs and the economy. Several students cited the number of jobs lost during Strickland’s tenure as governor from 2006-2010, which included the recession.
“The most important thing for me is being able to find a good job when I graduate, so I’m supporting Rob Portman because he is fighting to grow jobs and opportunity across Ohio and the nation,” said Emily Hildreth, a student at Ohio State.
Portman and Strickland’s campaign will likely be one of the most important in the nation, as Democrats have set their sights on the Buckeye State as a possible place to win a Republican seat and help them regain the majority in the upper chamber.