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As U.S. voters teeter, Ohio is king of swing
The Cincinnati Enquirer ^ | 25 Apr 04 | Carl Weiser

Posted on 04/25/2004 8:18:10 PM PDT by xzins

By Carl Weiser
Enquirer Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - Why Ohio?

Ohio is the must-win state in the 2004 presidential election. That's been made clear through hours of local TV ads, front-page stories about Ohio's importance in USA Today and The Washington Post, and weekly visits from the candidates and their surrogates.

ABOUT OHIO

Who says Ohio is the most important state in the 2004 presidential election?

• The Washington Post, April 18
Began a series of stories on "Swing State: The Battle for Ohio." Description of Ohio: "Gatekeeper to the presidency 2004."

• The Hill, April 1
"A ripe, green Ohio is key in presidential election." Description of Ohio: "Often referred to as the 'Mother of Republican presidents,' Ohio is considered by many to be the Florida of 2004.

• USA Today, March 31
"Ohio: A must-win and a tough win." Description of Ohio: "The outcome of the battle for Ohio is uncertain, but the stakes are not. Both campaigns are making Ohio a priority. It's one of 17 states where both are airing TV ads. It is, strategists for both campaigns say, the Florida of the 2004 campaign."

• Newsweek/MSNBC, Feb. 27
"All Eyes on Ohio." Description of Ohio: "Reeling from job losses and torn over social issues, the Buckeye State is November's most critical battleground state."

• Howard Dean, July 17, 2003
Spoke in Cincinnati. Description of Ohio: "Ohio is going to be the swing state. Ohio will be the Florida of 2004. We have to win here."

Gannett News Service

But what exactly makes the Buckeye State more special than the 16 or so other usual battleground states? It's the mini-America.

"If you drive from Youngstown to Cincinnati, you've basically traversed most of the types of people and types of places you would find in the United States," said John Green, director of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron.

"Ohio was the first entirely American state," reads the Almanac of American Politics, "and one which ever since has seemed the epitome of American normalcy."

That normality comes not from conformity but just the opposite: the diversity and tensions and balkanized communities that make up Ohio.

It all ends up in a precarious political equilibrium, just as in the nation as a whole.

It makes sense to think of Ohio as five or six different states, said Eric Rademacher, co-director of the University of Cincinnati's Ohio Poll.

Just as on the national map, northeast Ohio is more Democratic. The rural areas, like the Plains, are Republican. Southwest Ohio, like the South, is Republican.

Overall, President Bush and John Kerry are tied in Ohio, according to the most recent Ohio Poll. But Kerry would beat Bush by 11 percentage points in northeast Ohio. In southwest Ohio, Bush would beat Kerry by eight.

In northeast Ohio, for example, when residents complain about the economy, they mean jobs are disappearing. In southwest Ohio, it means the cost of living is rising too fast and wages aren't keeping up, Rademacher said.

Even Democrats in Cincinnati are more conservative than Democrats in Cleveland, he said.

Most states are either overwhelmingly Republican or Democratic. The presidential results in Indiana or Massachusetts or Idaho are rarely in doubt.

That's true in many Ohio counties as well. Not once in the past five presidential elections has Hamilton County gone Democratic. Not once in the past five elections has Cuyahoga County gone Republican.

Ohio has about 15 battleground counties, similar to the number of battleground states - places where the margin of victory for either candidate in 2000 was less than 5 percentage points.

Someone studying elections for the first time would have a hard time believing Ohio is this important.

Its slow population growth means it will have one fewer electoral vote - 20 - than in 2000. In 1952, it had 25 electoral votes. Six other states have more electoral votes, including swing states Florida and Pennsylvania.

It doesn't much look like a battleground, judging from who runs the state. Republicans control every statewide office - two senators, governor, the congressional delegation, the Legislature, and everything in between. Fifteen years ago, Democrats controlled the state.

But Democrats have two major factors in their favor:

• The state has lost 270,000 jobs since the 2000 election.

• New campaign finance rules that have allowed anti-Bush groups to mutate into canvasser-hiring, direct-mailing, advertisement-airing behemoths.

Republicans believe their ace in the hole is social issues: abortion, gays and guns. Kerry has liberal records on all three.

In some ways, Ohio's importance is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The media and politicians hype Ohio. Almost every story about Ohio notes that no Republican has won the White House without winning the state.

President Bush came to Cincinnati to make his pitch to the heartland on the Iraq war in October 2002. He made Toledo his first stop after this year's State of the Union speech. Kerry returns to Ohio Monday and Tuesday, as part of a "Jobs First Express" bus tour, hitting Youngstown and Cleveland. He was just in Cincinnati April 6.

In 1996 The New York Times moved a reporter to Canton, Ohio, to gauge Middle America's pulse during the election.

The Washington Post announced Sunday it will be "returning regularly to Ohio" to keep tabs on who will win the election.

Not that anyone here is arguing.

Green, of the Ray Bliss Institute, said: "The pundits across the nation are right to single out Ohio."

E-mail cweiser@gannett.com


TOPICS: Front Page News; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; US: Ohio
KEYWORDS: battleground; crucial; election; ohio; swing

1 posted on 04/25/2004 8:18:10 PM PDT by xzins
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To: xzins
Ohio has about 15 battleground counties, similar to the number of battleground states

In 1996 The New York Times moved a reporter to Canton, Ohio, to gauge Middle America's pulse during the election.

This is my neck of the woods. Believe it was in 2000, CNN did an exit-poll report from Jackson township (near North Canton).

Stark county is a fight Bush needs to win.
2 posted on 04/25/2004 8:30:59 PM PDT by Gun142 (Where Will You Be When You Get Where You're Going? -- Jerry Clower)
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To: Gun142
How many townships does Stark County have?

It'd be good for some freeper to have email access to a few folks in each township, who will spread it to a few folks in each precinct, who'll spread it to a few folks on each street.

Too bad there isn't an email organization like that.
3 posted on 04/25/2004 8:36:45 PM PDT by xzins (Retired Army and Proud of It!)
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To: DrDeb; ohioWfan; DollyCali
ping
4 posted on 04/25/2004 8:43:59 PM PDT by prairiebreeze (Resign and testify you feckless, duplicitous, devious traitor. Yes, Jamie, I mean you!)
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To: prairiebreeze
this Ohioian is voting for Bush
5 posted on 04/25/2004 8:46:12 PM PDT by drq
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To: xzins
How many townships does Stark County have?

15 or so, I think.

The county Republican party better be working overtime this year, lots of union guys are in 'anything but Bush' mode. There are a lot of union folks here. Union tells these guys Bush wants to take their jobs and give them to the illegals he just gave amnesty to, bad economy, etc. It gets worse from there. [How do you give jobs lost in a bad economy to illegals if, well, the jobs are lost? ~sigh~]

Best thing for Bush to do is come here and have a town hall meeting, not just a fundraiser. Local paper, Canton Repository runs the typical, biased AP articles against Bush. I look at the headlines they run and take a pass on buying their paper.

However, if I remember correctly, CantonRep endorsed Bush in 2000. What I'm thinking is, an event here would bypass the AP articles since the locals would write the stories.
6 posted on 04/26/2004 6:27:14 AM PDT by Gun142 (Where Will You Be When You Get Where You're Going? -- Jerry Clower)
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