The Electoral Map: Ohio

The Ohio delegation to the House favors the GOP 12-4 and with all incumbents running for reelection and all safe, that should remain the same.  Initially, there was some concern in the Senate race that pitted Republican incumbent Rob Portman against former Governor Ted Strickland.

In fact, this was a tight race with Portman leading by a precarious average of under three points as late as the end of August.  But then an audiotape of Strickland emerged in which he stated that it was a good time for Justice Antonin Scalia to die because his death would somehow enhance the chances of organized labor.  Since that comment went public, in addition to some other gaffes along the way coupled with some deft politics by Portman himself, the incumbent has surged ahead to an average advantage of over 8 points.

While it may be true that as we reach Election Day some polls may show a tightening of the race, I think it is safe to say that Portman has successfully run out the clock and he will win reelection by no less than six points at the closest.

As for the presidential sweepstakes, momentum in Ohio is certainly on the side of Donald Trump.  Ohio is a key state and a bell weather one.  How Trump performed in Ohio in the polls was sensitive to the gaffes on the campaign trail.  At the end of August, he trailed by an average of 4 points.  After 21 polls in September, he was down 1.33 points.  But after the most recent controversy involving the Clinton e-mails and the Comey letter, he turned that positive to a negative at the end of October.  We are two days and five polls into November and that bare positive has turned into a 1.2 percentage lead.

As John Kasich reminded us ad nauseum on the campaign trail, recent history shows that a Republican presidential candidate cannot win the White House without winning Ohio.  In fact, electoral history shows that whoever wins Ohio generally wins the Presidency going back to the FDR administration (1944).  That would infer a lot of history to be overcome by Clinton.  Of course, the electoral map has changed immensely since 1944.

For her part, Clinton is counting on winning Ohio by their GOTV efforts, especially in the population centers of the state.  There are problems with that strategy.  First, enthusiasm is not that great for Clinton.  Second, Ohio is not like Illinois where Cook County more or less dictates electoral results, or Washington state where the Seattle area dictates results.  Convincing the conservative leaning suburbs of population centers in Ohio, and convincing others in the more rural areas of the state may be a tall order for a “damaged” candidate.

Ohio is not a liberal state.  If anything, it is a typical Midwestern practical conservative state.  Therefore, it is quite possible that Trump can win Ohio and lose the Presidency and join the ranks of Thomas Dewey who was the last Republican candidate to win the state and lose the big prize in 1944.  Whether that happens remains to be seen, but at this point, given his momentum and trend in the polls, this writer is predicting a razor thin, almost recount territory victory for Trump.

Hence, out of Ohio one should expect no change in the House partisan breakdown and that chamber remains in the GOP control 237-198.  Likewise, with the Portman victory the Senate remains tied 50-50.  Clinton leads in the electoral vote count, 264-215.

Tomorrow: New Hampshire