Ohio was the deciding votes in the last election. In 2000, Gore for some odd reason did not contest it strongly. In 2004, Kerry contested Ohio strongly and did enough to win in most years. Bush won in 2000 50-46 and in 2004 51-49. He won in 04 because he racked up big margins in the rural areas, and won big in some of the suburban areas outside of Cincy and Columbus. All roads to election lead through Ohio. There are four big states that can not be lost unless the table is run. For the democrats, that is Pennsylvania and Michigan. For the Republicans that is Florida and Ohio. While it is possible to win without those two, it is very unlikely. There are two September polls. Rasmussen has McCain by 7, Quinnipiac has Obama by 5. That doesn't tell you much except that there's a battle. The GOP overall took a big hit here thanks to Mr. 18%. former governor Bob Taft. I don't know who disliked Taft more, conservatives or democrats. Taft was a crook. Taft was anti-gun. Taft raised taxes. That's not good. This helped the democrats with a major takeover in 2006. Will that continue in 08? We'll see. McCain isn't from Ohio, so that helps.
John Kerry won 16 counties in Ohio. Al Gore won 16 counties as well. The two counties that flipped were Clark County to Bush and Stark County to Kerry. Those are both imporant counties. Clark County is Springfield and Stark County is Canton. The percentages increased in both base counties between 00 and 04. Dividing the area up by regions:
This is the main base for the democrats. The Cleveland and Youngstown/Warren area. There are 5.6 million voters in Ohio. Over 2 million of them are in Northeast Ohio. 8 of the blue counties are also in Northeast Ohio. The biggest one is Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) - John Kerry got 67% here. Gore got 63% here. That is the biggest reason why 04 was closer than 00. Kerry got 90,000 more votes than Gore. Bush got 30,000 more votes in 04 than 00. Most of the democrat gains were in East Cleveland, the mostly black areas, although they gained a lot of votes in the white areas (Kucinich district) as well. Slightly over 670,000 votes came from Cuyahoga County. Kerry started out with a 227,000 vote spread out of Cuyahoga County. The other counties in Northeast that went over 60% were Mahoning and Trumbull Counties which are Youngstown and Warren. Between those two counties, there are almost 250,000 votes. Those are strong union/labor areas. The other two democrat bases there are Lorain and Summit (Akron) counties, also labor areas. There's about 420,000 more votes in those two areas. Portage (between Cleveland and Youngstown) and Ashtabula (between Cleveland and Erie PA) are democrat leaners but could be competitive. They have about 120,000 votes. The last blue county was Stark County which has 188,000 votes. Kerry won it 51-49 and Bush won it 49-47 in 2000. There are some Republican bases in Northeast Ohio. Geauga County is a 60-40% county with 51,000 votes. Medina (between Lorain and Akron), Wayne, and rural Ashland Counties are also strong bases for the GOP. Lake County is competitive, but usually goes GOP. Overall, Northeast Ohio is not democrat due to cultural issues like some of the Philly burbs. They are democrat due to the union influence. If I have to make a comparison to Michigan, I'd say this area is like a giant mix of Flint, Saginaw, and Bay City. Even Dennis Kucinich for years was pro-life. Tim Ryan has had the NRA endorsement in the past. Jim Traficant came from Youngstown and was the most independent member of congress. Can Obama sell here with Bush not on the ticket? Can he sell outside of city centers in Cleveland, Akron, Youngstown, and parts of Lorain, Warren and Akron? That remains to be seen. The democrats need to do well in Northeast Ohio to have a chance.
East/Southeast Ohio - This area is why the democrats lost Ohio in 2000 and 2004. It is rural and conservative for the most part. It is not Republican either. Ted Strickland represented this area for years before being governor. Strickland is economic liberal, but pro-life and pro-2nd Amendment. The other part of the district was represented by Bob Ney whose screw ups caused his district to go democrat. Bush won both districts, but neither were solidly republican. This area is politically similar more to West Virginia. It won't vote for an ultraliberal, but Republicans can NEVER take it for granted. Four counties here went blue out of about 21 or 22. Athens County is the major one, going 63%-36% for Kerry and 51%-38% for Gore. It's the most culturally liberal part of Ohio and is home to Ohio University. The other three are Jefferson, Belmont, and Monroe counties. Those are more competitive areas although they lean democrat. The rest of the areas all went for Bush, some by narrow, some by a larger number.
Central Ohio - Franklin County leans Democrat, and all the rest of the counties are solidly Republican, most of which over 60%. Franklin County is Columbus and a few burbs. Outside of Cleveland, this was the big gain for democrats. Kerry won it 54-45% Gore 49-48%. 5000 vote spread became a 48,000 vote spread. Bush made up for 15,000 of it in the surrounding counties, all of them over 60% Bush. Fairfield county spread 14,000 to 18,000. Pickaway 4,000 to 6,000. Madison 3,500 to 5,000. Union, 5,500 to 9,000. Delaware County 19,000 to 26,000. Licking County, 14,000 to 19,000. The other counties north of there are also solid Republican, enough to the area evens out. That said, there's a lot of work that needs to be done in the Columbus area.
Northwest Ohio - Two counties went Blue here. Lucas County (Toledo) and Erie County (Sandusky). Both are working class areas, Toledo industrial and Sandusky is the home of Cedar Point. Erie County is a little more competitive. 51-46% in 2000 and 53-46% in 04. Lucas is a stronghold 60-40% and 58-40%. Ottawa County (Port Clinton) and Wood Counties (Bowling Green) next door to Toledo are competitive, but went for Bush. The GOP base counties here are the rural counties bordering Indiana, and suprisingly to me, Hancock and Allen Counties. Allen surprises me especially, since it has Lima, which I figured was democrat. Allen was 66% for Bush. Hancock 70%. All of the other Northwestern Counties are 60%+ except for Fremont's Seneca County which is 58% for Bush. McCain needs big numbers out of all these area to win. I think Palin helps here.
Southwest Ohio - Overall, this is the main Republican base, but there has been shakeups locally down there that affect the congressional races. I do not know how that will affect the presidency. I hope it doesn't. We'll see. One county went democrat in 2004, two in 2000. Montgomery (Dayton) is a competitive county with the 2nd most votes. 51-49 and 50-48 were the percentages. Clark County (Springfield) went democrat 49-48 in 2000 and for Bush 51-49 in 2004. The only other competitive county at the top of the ticket is Hamilton (Cincy). 53-47% in 2004 for Bush and 54-43% for Bush in 2000. The reason for the reduction? Minority vote. Cincy is almost 43% black. A lot of conservatives are also leaving the state to the Kentucky suburbs, not just the Ohio suburbs. That lowers some of the base. The 43,000 vote spread out of Hamilton County in 04 was reduced to 23,000. The suburbs and rural counties made up for the 20,000 difference and then some. Butler county's spread increased from 40,000 to 53,000. Warren County from 29,000 to 42,000. Clermont 27,000 to 37,000. Miami County from 11,000 to 16,000. Greene County 13,000 to 18,000. That is why Bush survived Ohio in 2004, despite a triple whammy from Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincy.
Can McCain sell? Can Obama sell? I made the solid/lean/tossup categories objectively. My gut feeling here is that McCain will win because Obama won't sell here. If this was a Hillary/Biden ticket, I think Ohio flips.
While all states are important, the big four states in elections are Ohio, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. The dems can not win without Penn and Michigan, and the Republicans can't without Florida and Ohio. If they split two each like the last two times, then it comes down to smaller states. If three go one way, it's almost impossible to win without a monumental blunder or shocker. The toughest candidate to beat is the one that can sell to these four areas, all of which have a large Reagan Democrat population.
I'll get to the scenarios in part 9. Part 8 will be Michigan.