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Ohio: Is Brown the Democrat to Beat?

A new poll conducted for Rep. Sherrod Brown's (D) Senate campaign shows him with a wide lead against primary challenger/Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett (D).

The initial ballot test, which was conducted by pollster Diane Feldman, showed Brown with a 47 percent to 20 percent lead over Hackett.  When voters leaning toward one of the candidates were included, Brown led 51 percent to 27 percent. 

Much of Brown's lead is the result of his name recognition in the Cleveland-Akron media market, which contains roughly 40 percent of the Democratic primary electorate, according to Feldman. In that market, Brown holds a huge 68 percent to 16 percent edge over Hackett -- a lead attributable to Brown having represented the area in Congress since 1992.

But that name identification edge reaches statewide as well, according to the poll, with Brown unfamiliar to just 19 percent of voters while nearly half (48 percent) did not know Hackett's name.

Karl Frisch, a spokesman for Hackett, called the survey a "snapshot of one thing -- name identification." The fact that Brown was at 51 percent in the ballot test but just 47 percent of voters knew enough about him to rate him either positively or negatively, Frisch said, was evidence that the survey respondents are only loosely aligned to his campaign.

As Frisch rightly pointed out, a name identification deficit affords Hackett considerable room to grow if he can raise the millions necessary to run campaign commercials across the state. That remains the major question for Hackett campaign.  Undoubtedly, one of the Brown campaign's goals in releasing this poll was to shut off the cash spigot for Hackett.

Brown begins the money chase with a huge lead. He ended September with $2 million sitting in a House account, all of which can be transferred to a Senate campaign. Hackett had $19,000 following his narrow special election loss last August to Rep. Jean Schmidt (R) in Ohio's 2nd District.

Feldman's poll, which was in the field Dec. 6-7 and tested 600 likely Democratic primary voters, suggests that even on Hackett's main issue -- the war in Iraq -- he is being beaten by Brown. Among the 45 percent of primary voters who say Iraq is their main concern, Brown beats Hackett 51 percent to 27 percent.

Hackett's campaign has not conducted a poll so far in the campaign. The primary is set for May 2. The eventual winner moves on to face Sen. Mike DeWine (R) next November.

By Chris Cillizza  |  December 12, 2005; 4:33 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Posted by: insurance auto | June 8, 2006 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Cleveland fought specifically to keep the name Browns--how much good has it done them?

I think Ohioans are smarter than to simply support Sherrod Brown because he has the 2nd most common surname in America.

Viva uses more bizarre arguments. Brown lost his last statewide race, thus he can't win statewide? Two wins and one loss makes you unelectable statewide, eh? Mike DeWine lost in 1992 but won in 1994 and 2000. Same record.

Difference is, this time DeWine has alienated his base by being part of the Gang of 14, and Republicans are on the defensive nationally, especially in Ohio with Taft's approval at 15% and corruption a daily news story in the state. Ohioans know that Sherrod Brown is principled and has amassed a solid record of working aggressively for average people. Viva and his party would like us to draw our attention away from a failing war in Iraq, hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs disappearing, rising poverty, falling wages, a fraying safety net in retirement and health, the fact that college education is out of reach to more and more people--dampening future economic growth--historic financial mismanagement of the nation, and instead worry about gay and lesbian couples in 1 state can marry. These ignorant emotional appeals work in the short term, but inevitably their usefulness wears out. Republicans have controlled Ohio for 16 years; their number is up.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | December 15, 2005 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for your analysis.
Obviously a lot can happen in the next 10 months. How much additional bad press can Rep. Ney take on the Abramoff investigation before he is in deep trouble.
Could he withstand an indictment if it came to that? Would some more revelations of favors for Abramoff clients make him really vulnerable to an attractive, well-financed Democrat?
I am not familiar with Rep. LaTourette; what Democratic opponent would give him nightmares?

Posted by: Mouse | December 14, 2005 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Here's a given: most House incumbents have a built-in insulation and are not likely to change. Redistricting has a lot to do with this. Other factors are: name recognition and money.

So given that GOP reps are in pretty safe seats to begin with, and given they have been in their seats for more than one term and given they have no scandals, they are likely to stay put.

Here are the POSSIBLE vulnerables. 2nd District, Jean Schmidt. Thus far I am yet to see anyone who beats her in the primary. True she may have lost some votes due to her maligned by the Dems statement about them cutting and runnin, she probably picked up more votes from the 75% of the electorate that stayed home last August. This is a heavy GOP dist and should return the Republican, any Republican. HAckett might have had a chance, alas...
8th District. Mike Oxley is retiring but this too is a big time GOP district it should stay the same with several known GOP state senators likely to step in.
14th District Steve LaTourette. He might be the most vulnerable given the area, NEOH but unless the Dems come with a known candidate and mucho $$, I see Steve returning.
18th Bob Ney. Ney may be THE must vulnerable but again. depends on who the Dem is and whether or not he'she has any $$. Bottom line, there are no open Republican seats and the incumbents are defending their present seats.

Let me mention 2 dsitricts that the Dems MAY lose given they have been opened by Sherrod Brown and Ted Strickland running for senate and governor.

Strickland's 6th District is in SEOH and the heart of Appalachia, an area that went the last 2X for Bush. The Dems may have to spend big bucks to keep this seat. Once we have a better take on the likely candidates we will have an idea of the GOP chances.

Now my district, the 13th, Brown's. Can you imagine the disaster if we win this while Brown loses to Dewine which he should? Presently there are 4-5 Dem possibles, none of whom is well-known in the District. Wayne Jones of Summit County is the odds on Dem. Former Rep Tom Sawyer of Akron is the best known but does not live in the district. Besides, he voted for NAFTA which won't make it here, hence Jones.
Prsently, there are no name GOPs and it's little wonder given it is a Dem district and for years no one wanted to take on Brown. The best GOP candidate possiblity is Lorain mayor Craig Foltin. Foltin has consistenly won in this overwhelming Dem city. He knows how to raise $$ and knows how to beat Democrats. The House campaign committee needs to give him unlimited funds if it wants to win this seat, a seat which can stay GOP for years since Foltin is only 38.

Bottom line today, GOP picks up one seat.

Posted by: vivabush04 | December 14, 2005 9:29 AM | Report abuse

A question for Vivabush04--Which 2 Ohio Republican Representatives do you think are most endangered, and why?
I assume that you think that all will be reelected, but which 2 are apt to have the scariest 11 months between now and next November?

Posted by: Mouse | December 14, 2005 6:50 AM | Report abuse

Can the Republican coalition hold? Very possibly. The coalition is united against the unions and far left types. This is what assures a major turnout for Blackwell and Dewine next November.

You are correct that the Right is not happy with Dewine these days but it is not going to sit still to see the likes of Sherrod Brown take his place. You only need to look at how it turned out to defeat big time the ballot amendments last month. One of the reasons they went down was the pitifully low turnouts in the urban areas. When the Right sees itself, its candidates, assaulted by the Left, it responds.

Impeach Taft? what for? A misdemeanor? Taft failed to report a couple of golf outings. Taft's numbers are down because of misfesance and awful leadership, not larceny.

Most incumbent insiders are going to have a tough time next year but again, a lot depends on the challenger, his/her platform, and $$.

Posted by: vivabush04 | December 13, 2005 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Why Taft has not been impeached or recall effort if baffling to me. Surely the GOP could get him to resign.

One thing is for sure, if Kenneth Blackwell is the standardbearer for the GOP's candidate for Governor, a Democratic ticket headed by Strickland, Hackett for Senate and even other congressional races could help bring either the house of reps or senate back to dem control. Notice, I don't see how Sherrod Brown helps this happens. Now if his name was the late Paul Brown, he may win some downstate votes. I agree with VivaBsuh, Sherrod is too left of where Ohio votes, except Cleveland. To win in Southern Ohio and Columbus suburbs, you have to be a centrist democrat. Hackett falls into that category which is why he almost took out Mean Jean

Posted by: ImpeachTaftNow | December 13, 2005 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Agree viva. I assume Congressional districts in Ohio are gerrymandered like they are everywhere else. But seriously from everything I read, Dewine has majorly pissed off the Falwellians. They won't vote for a D but they might stay home. You think the Republican coaltion can hold?

Posted by: Mike 234 | December 13, 2005 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Jean Schmidt...what can I say? If she makes it through the primaries, she would be beaten by Hackett if he ran against her. In that district, public service, and veterans dominate that area, and her attack on John Murtha slapped her constituents in the face. Now, I think Hackett will win the nomination because he is what Ohio wants, Iraq Vet, not a Republican, not a liberal, a true moderate Democrat. Really think about it John Kerry had 49% of the vote in 2004 in Ohio, Bush 51%. Kerry was liberal, and did that good in a time when Republicans did not have as many scandals. Taft might be going to jail...honestly. So, Hackett with his moderate veteran image, and policies will beat DeWine who has nearly the lowest approval rating of any Senator in the US.

Posted by: OhioDemocrat | December 13, 2005 7:52 PM | Report abuse

I am from Ohio, and Paul Hackett has my support in the primaries. He is better fitted to beat DeWine. With the Republican scandals, Ohioans are looking for someone who is from the outside, someone who is not a career politician. Ohio has been hit very hard by US soldier deaths, and Iraq ways heavily on voters minds. Paul Hackett is an Iraq veteran who better to debate the war in Iraq. Ohio voters are a tad bit to the right of the middle ground. Paul Hackett fits more into their ideolgical backgrounds. Paul Hackett is someone who presents new ideas, and will beat Sherrod Brown, and will beat the soft Mike DeWine. Although I respect Sherrod Brown, Ohio needs change, Ohio needs Paul Hackett.

Posted by: PopulistDemocrat | December 13, 2005 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Let's be perfectly clear about 2 things Jason. First of all, HAckett is not challenging Brown as you say. Brown is the challenger in this race. Brown is the bad guy who jumped into the race AFTER saying he was not running and after Hackett had the blessing and encouragement of Schumer and Reid to make a run at Dewine. It is Brown who is making a mess of things for Hackett and the Party down the road. If I were Hackett, I'd take a walk after the primary.

Before you get delusional that a Democrat can beat Congresswoman Jean Schmidt in the heavily Republican 2nd District, show me some poll numbers, any poll numbers that reflect a possible upset here.

Posted by: vivabush04 | December 13, 2005 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Even though I am disappointed that Paul Hackett is challenging Sherrod Brown in the primary rather than focusing on Rep. Jean Schmidt, I am very impressed with the candidacy of Jim Parker and feel he has an excellent chance to knock of "Mean Jean" if we support him now. And, Jim, thanks for posting.

Posted by: Jason | December 13, 2005 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Sorry vivabush I think you're deluding yourself. I'm not saying the Dems will win on the corruption issue everywhere but Taft is toxic in Ohio. Add in Iraq and the fact that the faux Christians hate Dewine because he brokered the filibuster deal, and there aren't many people left to vote for him.

Ohio Republicans operatives should have forced Taft out of office long ago. Oops.

Also, continuing to bash gays will hurt the Ohio economy. Knowledge workers (straight and gay) won't accept jobs in places viewed as intolerant and hence high tech companies won't locate facilities there. It's a dumb move if you care about non-industrial economic development.

I guess our little disagreement can only be resolved at the ballot box.

Posted by: Mike 234 | December 13, 2005 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Afraid? Ohio Republicans aren't afraid, certainly not of the "Gang that Can't Shoot Straight" aka as the Democrat Party.

You want wedge issues? Reform Ohio Now tried to pass four state amendments based on corruption and competance this past general election. They didn't even come close to passing.

Go ahead and play the corruption card. It's bound to work on some voters with some candidates but don't expect an across the board impact on the entire GOP ticket.

It won't be enough for the Dems to say they're not GOPs give us your vote. Voters will want more than promises and more taxes to grab their attention and votes.

Posted by: vivabush04 | December 13, 2005 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Here's a terrifying thought for Ohio Republican operatives: What if the "wedge" issue in 2006 tunrs out to be competence?

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Posted by: Mike 234 | December 13, 2005 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Yes Brown is a good name in Ohio but Browns do lose.

Clarence Brown did well as a GOP rep out of Urbana but lost a state-wide race to Dick Celeste for governor in 1982.

Sherrod brown was elected secretary of state 2 times, 1982-90 but lost re-election to Bob Taft in 1990. So the last time Sherrod ran state-wide, HE LOST.

While issues will play a big part in 2006, two other factors will be just as big, money and organization. Who will have more money and the better organization? GOP dominance for the past 16 years has hardly been due to good fortune alone.

Posted by: vivabush04OH | December 13, 2005 12:16 PM | Report abuse

I would surmise that part of the reason that Sherrod Brown is doing so well in this poll is that the name "Brown" has been a magic name in Ohio politics. Sherrod Brown himself is a former secretary of state, there was a William Brown who served as Ohio Attorney General, and Clarence Brown was a Republican member of Congress for many years. And these are three I remember without looking up others--oh, yes, there was also a Ted Brown.

Like the name Taft (for better or worse), people in Ohio vote for Brown(s). If a pollster asks a respondent to choose between someone named Hackett (especially outside of southwestern Ohio) and someone named Brown, Brown will win everytime. (And this has nothing to do with UPS and seeing what "Brown will do for you!)

Posted by: Howard | December 13, 2005 11:16 AM | Report abuse

You're wrong vivabush. The gay marriage crap won't play as well in 2006 as in 2004. As much as Ohio Republicans may desperately inject wedge issues in the campaign to change the subject, it won't work this time. Why? Iraq and Taft's near-criminal incompetence will outshine everything. The fact that no Democrat has won statewide office since 1994 is a problem for the Republicans -- not an advantage. Like the Washington Republicans establishment, the Ohio Republicans will be blamed for every problem. Bashing the queers won't save you this time.

Posted by: Mike 234 | December 13, 2005 10:56 AM | Report abuse

"Ohio is not a GOP state, it is a swing state? Never let the facts get in the way of wishful thinking.

Bush wins Ohio in 2000 by 4 points, Bush wins Ohio in 2004 by 2 points. Since 1994, all elected state offices are held by Republicans, the state house and senate are Republican, 6 of seven supreme court justices are GOP. Both U.S. Seantors are Republican and out of the 18 reprsentatives to congress, 12 are Republican with 5 of the six Democrat reps in Northern Ohio. Please tell me what part of "Ohio is a Red State" that you don't understand Subway Man.

The Ohio GOP holds the edge in the get-out-the-vote effort the last two general elections, first to re-elect the president and this year to beat the ballot amendments handily. Already our forces are gearing up for 2006. If I were an out of state political consultant I would take all of this into account.

Brown and Hackett are going to damage each other BIG Time. Best of all, they are going to spend a couple of million against each other. Millions that won't be used against Dewine. Dewine has NO serious primary opposition. State Dems are already at odds with each other and are in a big fight to select a new state chair among a slate of 8. will they select a Howard Dean type (Chris Redfern?) or a consensus guy who can unite the party? They meet next week. Standby.

Hackett is Dewine's worst nightmare being a military vet and a gun owner. He is articulate and would connect with moderate voters, unlike Sherrod Brown who is essentially a John Kerry clone issues-wise. At least Kerry voted for the war, something Brown did not do.

The best thing Dewine has going for him is Sherrod Brown's record. While Hackett is a vet, Brown is not (not sure why he didn't do service in the Vietnam era? And he has the gall to question the President's service in the National Guard.) The record will show that he is a knee-jerk, far-left liberal, anti-gun, anti-war ,anti-military, pro-abortion, pro-tax, pro gay marriage. Don't forget that last year the Marriage Amendment passed 63-37% meaning a lot of moderate Dems voted for it.

District-wise, Brown has nothing to show for his 14 years as our congressman. The same charges he throws at Dewine regarding job loss, the economy etc. point back to him as he has nothing to show results-wise for Lorain County economic development. Sherrod Brown has not contributed to a single job in the 13th District.

Last year, 2004, the major issues were the war and the economy. Both should have been fatal to Bush and he still overcame. 2006 will show Iraq improved over 2004, same for the economy.

Brown will be a strong opponent; he is one of the best politicians I have ever known. Polls may very well show a close race to the end however; I predict that Mike Dewine will be re-elected senator from Ohio and the Dems will have wasted a great deal of money on a flawed candidate that could have best been expended on someone else.

Posted by: vivabush04OH | December 13, 2005 9:52 AM | Report abuse

I don't live in Ohio, and would like the Hackett supporters to explain to me why it would not be better for Paul Hackett to run against Rep. Schmidt.
It seems to me that the Democrats have a better chance of capturing the House of Representatives instead of the Senate, especially if they can defeat Republicans like Rep. Schmidt.
Since Paul Hackett almost did that this fall, why wouldn't be better for the good of the nation for him to finish the job?
What am I missing?

Posted by: Mouse | December 13, 2005 6:05 AM | Report abuse

My name is Jim Parker and I am the Democratic Candidate for US Congress who has been running for US Congress against Jean Schmidt since the summer of 2005.

Earlier this year (2005), I was a candidate in the special election in Southern Ohio and I ran against Paul Hackett. That was before I knew Paul Hackett. Throughout that election, Paul Hackett became a friend of mine.

After I lost the primary, I stood with Paul and told the people of Southern Ohio why they should vote for him. Paul is a good person with many good ideas. I am certain, that once people throughout Ohio get to know him, that he will be a successful candidate in the US Senate campaign in Ohio. The one mistake that the Democratic Party has consistently made for years is that, not only in Ohio, but also throughout the entire nation, they support candidates in primaries who cannot possibly win general elections. Paul is a candidate who can win the Senate race against the incumbent party in Ohio 2006. But first, he has to win his own party's primary on May 2, 2006. Let's not let the party make the same mistakes again.

Paul has alot more to offer than his ideas and opinion on the war. He has ideas related to saving Social Security. He has ideas for economic expansion. He has ideas for saving the Medicare program from certain demise. He has strong opinions about keeping the government out of people's lives.

It is an honor and a privilege to be the candidate who is running against Jean Schmidt in the 2006 Southern Ohio Congressional election. It is an opportunity for me, Jim Parker, to fight for everything that is right and good about America. It is an honor to have the opportunity to send a message to Washington that people like myself and Paul Hackett are willing to give up our lives and time and energy to take up the fight for every decent family in the United States of America.

I have a plan to offer health insurance to every child in America. I have a plan to expand the Medicare program from age 65 to age 55. I have a plan to help small businesses to expand so that they can provide more jobs in our communities. I have a plan to fight for a middle class tax cut. I have a plan to lift up the middle class, and with them, lift up the entire US economy. I have a plan to take every skill that I have learned throughout my career in healthcare and use my abilities to lift people up in their lives all across this great nation.

Paul Hackett and I are not your typical politicians of yesteryear... We are people who come from outside of government and are willing to take up the fight for every decent person in America. There are serious problems in America today and they require serious people with serious solutions. The answers to America's problems will not come from the politicans in Washington. They have repeatedly proven their inability to solve the problems of America. The answers will come from people like me and Paul who are willing to step up from outside the beltway and take up the fight for you and your family.

As I did before, I am doing again... It is an honor for me, Jim Parker from Southern Ohio, to stand beside Paul Hackett and show America that we have more to offer than the typical politicians that have for so long become a permanent fixture in Washington. He will make an excellent Senator. I will make an excellent Congressman. All that we both need is for the people of Ohio to believe in us as much as we believe in them...

Jim Parker
Democratic Candidate for US Congress
Southern Ohio - 2nd District - 2006

Posted by: Jim Parker - Candidate for Congress in Southern Ohio's 2nd District | December 13, 2005 5:34 AM | Report abuse

In truth, it would nice to see Hackett in action which I have not. I only know what I read, and that is has to be discounted by a x factor depending upon which paper I am reading.

What I am in agreement is, taking back at least one of the branches of goverment whether it is the House or Senate is imperative. The GOP dominance proves yet again that absolute power corrupts. So if Hackett can knock off either Dewine or Mean Jean, then good.

As for the statement that Ohio is a swing state, well it is getting closer to being purple but has not been pushed into the blue category recently. SO for now it is a red state with a moderate GOP idealogy.

Posted by: db | December 13, 2005 2:19 AM | Report abuse

Paul Hackett has charisma. Not as much as Barack Obama, but close. He has a passion for what he believes and he is able to communicate that passion when he speaks. Americans are hungry for political leaders with integrity, who can convince us they have the best interests of the country and its citizens as their first priority. We want a lobbyist for the "Joe Blows" of this land. His appearance, background & lack of political experience should appeal to broad groups of voters, including Independents like me, moderate, liberal and even conservative Democrats, and many disenchanted Republicans. The former Reagan Democrats are finally waking up to the fact that Reagan's Alzeimer's disease manifested itself in some horrible policy that continues to be exploited by the religious right and conservatives and originated the extreme polarization of our country. Reagan was the master of the sound byte which signaled the end of serious discussion of issues and the political parties stand on the issues. Perhaps Hackett can pull from all these groups and stimulate enough interest to get new voters registered, the ones who didn't vote because they believed his/her vote didn't matter because "politicians are all alike".

Posted by: Jeanette | December 12, 2005 10:27 PM | Report abuse

Actually, the polling data shows Brown with a bigger lead over DeWine than Hackett.

Ohio is not a GOP state. It is a swing state.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | December 12, 2005 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Can a relatively left leaning Democrat win in a moderately GOP state? Sherrod comes from the Howard Metenbaum wing of the Democratic party. What is a progressive any way? Sherrod has not stood out in DC, maybe back home he is bringing in the bacon, but I dont see him being fresh face or perspective. Hackett while inexperienced is a fresh new face with new perspective. I think Dewine beats Sherrod but would lose to Hackett. Although, I would love to see DEMs take out "Mean Jean, the laughingstock machine".

Posted by: db | December 12, 2005 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I get it, let's let Hackett fight the last war again. Great, just what I'd expect from mainstreamers like the Sandwich Repairman.

Chris, while I'm a HUGE fan of your blog, I am a little disappointed that you're buying into Brown's spin. Breaking down the ballot test by factoring in name ID and Paul's room for growth actually shows Hackett WAY AHEAD!!!
Viva Hackett!!! Tell professional politican Sherrod Brown to go raise his own pay again!!!

Posted by: Dr. Justice | December 12, 2005 7:03 PM | Report abuse

I've liked Hackett ever since reading a piece on him in Mother Jones Magazine. Given that he's never actually served in public office, it seems like the US Senate is shooting a bit high for a debut. I'd sure like to see him give Jean Schmidt an encore fight now that she (who called decorated veteran John Murtha a coward) and the GOP (whose corruption machine has been thoroughly exposed) are in disgrace.

Does anyone know if May is too late for him to jump into that Congressional race, assuming he fails in the Senate primary?

Posted by: Mark | December 12, 2005 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Go Sherrod!!! We need a real progressive in the Senate who knows how to get things done. Hackett is inexperienced and better suited for a rematch against JEAN (she's a woman) Schmidt in OH-2. Brown will be the best new senator to come out of the 2006 elections.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | December 12, 2005 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Brown is the man to beat and Hackett can beat him and DeWine too! Hackett`s outstanding performance aginst Gene Schmidt shows he has what it takes. He is not just another politicion blowing the typical smoke. By May the body count in Iraq will be over 2500.People are turning aginst this war expotentially. Hackett not Brown will help prevent more vain deaths.

Posted by: Cincinnati Walt | December 12, 2005 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Chris, isn't the larger question do either Brown or Hackett have a realistic chance of beating incumbent Dewine? If not, the contest for the Democratic nomination is irrelevant.

Having said that, I think Dewine may be vulnerable. I'm from Ohio (heading there for Christmas as a matter of fact) and I use my mom as a political barometer. She's 80 and a former moderate Republican driven away by the party's embrace of the Falwell crowd. Bottom line: She finds the "culture of corruption" message plausible. Will that message be so powerful in '06 that relative moderates like Dewine will be vulnerable? And how much will Taft's troubles influence the outcome?

Predictions Chris?

Posted by: Mike 234 | December 12, 2005 4:44 PM | Report abuse

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