The Note: Ohio Players

WASHINGTON, May 2

Ohio's status as the center of the political universe has not diminished much since we all awaited the results from there on election night 2004 to clearly determine the winner in the presidential race. This November, Ohio and national Democrats will be seeking to break the Republican stronghold on all the statewide offices there.

Due to a toxic political environment caused by several corruption scandals, the governor's office, a Senate race, and several House races have proven more competitive than has been the case in cycles past. So Ohio is, as always, an important bellwether, but one with special circumstances in 2006. If the Democrats' anti-corruption/time-for-change message is going to work anywhere, it should be here.

Today, there will be some wispy clues for professional tea leaf readers, Magic 8 Ballers, shamans, psychics, and Gersh.

Even for less mystic readers of The Note, there are few things as exciting as Buckeyes heading to the polls.

Ohio polls opened at 6:30 am ET and will close at 7:30 pm ET. (Yes, voters are also voting in Indiana and North Carolina.)

It's expected to rain across Ohio today from the Northeast to the Southwest. Columbus, OH: LINK

Cleveland, OH: LINK

Cincinnati, OH: LINK

Ohioans heading to the polls today will vote either electronically or on optical scan ballots. (Quite a change from November 2004 when 69 of 88 counties were still using punch cards.)

The directors of the boards of elections across the state and the Secretary of State estimate 25% of registered voters will turn out. LINK

You can monitor vote totals on the Secretary of State's Web site here: LINK

Don't call us for exit polls. We ain't got 'em.

"Fewer than 15 percent of voters are expected to show up" in the Indiana primaries today, predicts Mary Beth Schneider of the Indianapolis Star. LINK

Under the header "Election Day, but will anyone vote?," Charlotte Observer's Steve Lyttle writes that "elections officials estimate that between 10 percent and 15 percent of registered voters will cast ballots today." LINK

THE MAN WHO CARRIED OHIO TWICE, President Bush has no public schedule today. Press Secretary Scott McClellan was scheduled to gaggle at 9:30 am ET and do the full briefing at noon ET.

THE WOMAN MARRIED TO THE MAN WHO CARRIED OHIO TWICE, First Lady Laura Bush, hits the road for a busy travel day, including some Ohio time. Mrs. Bush and Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings participate in a "Celebrating Teachers" event at 10:50 am ET in Columbus, OH. While in the neighborhood, Mrs. Bush will also headline a luncheon fundraiser for Rep. Deborah Pryce's (R-OH) reelection campaign at noon ET. The First Lady then heads to Ft. Smith, AR to encourage seniors to enroll in the Medicare prescription drug program before the May 15 deadline. Mrs. Bush plans to remain overnight in New Orleans, LA.

Republican and Democratic Senate caucus policy committees hold their weekly luncheons at 12:30 pm ET with stakeouts expected.

The Senate convenes at 9:45 am ET and begins a period of morning business for up to 60 minutes split between the parties. Following morning business, the Senate will resume consideration of H.R. 4939, the Supplemental Appropriations bill and immediately proceed to a cloture vote.

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