Former President Barack Obama returns to Northeast Ohio this evening to campaign for Democrats on the November ballot, most notably the man he appointed to the run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Richard Cordray, who is challenging Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine for the post.
Obama's campaign stop in Cleveland comes two years after his last visit for Hillary Clinton in the lead up to the 2016 election and it comes less than a week after a speech in Illinois where he unloaded on President Trump and the Republican Party on a number of topics.
Cuyahoga County always represented a comfortable place for Obama, he won it by 258,000 votes in 2008 over Sen. John McCain and an almost identical 256,000 over Mitt Romney in 2012. That margin of victory in Northeast Ohio led him to victory in the state. By comparison, the last time Democrats were defending the governor's seat the incumbent Ted Strickland only won the county by 102,000, a margin that wasn't large enough to compel him to re-election losing to John Kasich by only 77,000 votes.
That's why Obama's return here is key for Democrats.
"It is it's very important because one of the biggest constituencies that had an under-turnout in 2016 is African Americans," said News 5 Political Analyst Dr. Tom Sutton of Baldwin Wallace University. "We know that 80-90 percent of African Americans vote Democrat on a regular basis, 90 percent tend to be registered as Democrats and that was where we saw a drop off from 2012 and 2008 because they weren't voting for Barack Obama anymore."
"So getting them to turn out on behalf of Democratic candidates is really what they're hoping will get the turnout and of course the big race really is the governor's race," he said.
Obama's 7 p.m. rally will take place not far from the Cleveland Clinic where he came to promote the Affordable Care Act in his first term. His visit and speech his expected to be about also defending the ACA which saw the expansion of the Clinic and the covering of several hundred thousand Ohioans through the expansion of Medicaid.
Sutton said he expects the former president to also to take his share of the credit for certain parts of the growth we've seen in the economy.
"Obama's making the case the economy's doing well now because of 'the things that I did,'" said Sutton. "Whereas Trump is saying 'look I'm president, I became president the economy took off, it's my policies.' It's a perennial debate no matter who the president and former president are."