The Most Important State in the Country

Monday, October 08, 2012

President Barack Obama answers questions during a health care town hall meeting at Shaker Heights High School in Cleveland, Ohio. (Samantha Appleton)

How important is Ohio? Though not as big as Florida, and with lower voter turnouts than Wisconsin, Ohio has been on the winning side of every presidential election since 1964. With its geographic and religious diversity, the state is increasingly seen as a microcosm for American voting preference at large.

In fact, on Wednesday night, The New York Times' polling guru Nate Silver went so far as to tweet, “Ohio, just by itself, now has a 40 percent chance of determining the Electoral College winner. About as important as the next 4 states combined.”

Ohio State politics professor Herb Asher is an expert in all things Ohio politics.

"It sounds like 2004 all over again," Asher says, describing the volume of campaign ads, candidate visits and mailings bombarding Ohio's voters this month. "I talk to friends in New York, and California, and Texas, and I tell them it's too bad they don't have a presidential campaign going on."

There are so many different cultures in Ohio that it's difficult to characterize. "What you really have in Ohio is a very complicated state," Asher says, mentioning the very diverse economy, which ranges from urban to agricultural. Yet, he does say that the prevailing sentiment is a moderate one. "I do think candidates in Ohio typically do better when they are seen as within the broad center," he says. 

Professor Asher thinks that it is impossible to predict at this point how Ohio will vote this year. "I think it's going to be a very close state, as you're suggesting."


Herb Asher

Comments [2]

Brad McLemore from Portlan, Oregon

In listening to today’s discussion with seven Lake County voters, what remains apparent as the elephant in the room, I felt in the same insecurity or ambivalence and that so many of us out here feel about our votes: it’s a default vote. Once again, only this time as glaringly obvious as ever, we are choosing between the only two choices we have been left with, that a flawed (for us) and exclusive political structure has given us via the marketing strategies of consumer politics. The question “if you had to choose today” lets this group paint the gray picture of the tiny and uncreative menu board of the two types of toast that we are all looking at, while thinking “this is all—where is my choice?” We vote for one, not because he broadly represents our worldview, social or economic ideology; but because the other does not--at least not according to the public face of their campaign brand.

Oct. 08 2012 02:14 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Why is it that Urban cities usually go Democratic and the agricultural small towns go Republican? What is the breakdown of that?

Oct. 08 2012 10:20 AM

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