A Look at the 2020 Election: Ohio

AP Photo/John Minchillo

Ohio has a reputation of voting for the eventual Presidential winner dating back to 1964.  Dating back to 1988, the average margin of victory has been slightly more than three percentage points.  In 2016, Trump prevailed by 8 percentage points- a virtual landslide by Ohio standards.

Part of the reason is demographics and part ideology, and both issues work in Trump’s favor.  Ohio is no longer demographically reflective of the country at large.  It is whiter, older, less college-educated, and has a median household income lower than the national average by about $6,000.  

Ideologically, although there are liberal enclaves around Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati (and to a lesser extent, the Toledo/Akron area), they are not the batshit crazy liberals like those in Seattle, Portland, or New York City.  Yes- there was a movement to change the name of Columbus and all that, but it passed into the ether of the Internet as quickly as it popped up.  

The current House delegation to DC favors the Republicans 12-4 and all incumbents for both parties are running for reelection this year.  When you have three-fourths of the delegation, one would expect there to be some targets out there for the Democrats.  If they are, they would be the 14th and 16th Districts.

The 14th lies in the northeast corner of the state along Lake Erie and the border with Pennsylvania.  In 2018, GOP incumbent David Joyce defeated his Democrat opponent by a comfortable 32,000 votes and there is no reason to believe the outcome will be different this year.  Trump also carried this district comfortably in 2016.  Likewise, in the 16th District, Anthony Gonzalez won this seat after Jim Renacci, a fellow Republican, opted for a gubernatorial run in 2018 and defeated Democrat Susan Moran Palmer by 31,000 votes.  Trump also won this district in 2016 by 16 percentage points.

We can take a cue for these race outcomes from neighboring northeast Pennsylvania.  There may be a state line there, but ideology and sentiments do not recognize state lines.  Much of the consternation one heard from Republicans and independents about Trump in 2016 are non-existent this year.  If anything, Trump has improved.  The most recent favorability ratings for Trump out of Ohio are encouraging and indicate a repeat of 2016.  There are just not enough radical fruitcakes in Ohio and if there were, they would likely be drowned out and ignored.

One of the major money players in Democrat politics- Priorities USA- is paying considerably less interest in Ohio.  In 2015, candidates were criss-crossing the state looking for support, but were largely absent in 2019-20 indicating that the Democrats may have written off Ohio.  The message of the GOP is best summarized by the state party chair, Jane Timken who said:

We care about things like football on Friday nights, going out to restaurants once in a while, going to church on Sunday.  The messaging that we’re getting from the Democrats, quite frankly, is so far away from the priorities of the average Ohio voter…They may not love the President but he’s delivering for them.  It’s a binary choice.

The following case is indicative of Ohio and the Democrats involving Chris Gibbs.  He is a farmer who voted for Trump in 2016, but quickly soured on the President and intended to challenge Jim Jordan in the Fourth District.  He was a regular voice on outlets with the letters “NBC” in them as the face of Trump voters against the President.  He did make it onto the November ballot as an independent.  But in Ohio, you need only 50 signatures to achieve that feat.  The only thing he really achieved was his proverbial 15 minutes of fame.  Will he affect the outcome?  No.  Is he reflective of the average Ohioan who voted for Trump in 2016 and now has second thoughts?  No.  Perhaps if someone not named Biden was at the top of the ticket, there may be some soul searching.

Polling shows a relatively close outcome.  This writer does not believe it will be close, or within the margin of error predicted by the polls.  Despite all the noise at the nadir of the Trump presidency- impeachment nonsense, coronavirus, violent protests, lockdowns, an economy shut down, etc.- Trump either stayed very close or led Biden in Ohio with a trend showing only improvement across many polls.

To conclude, Trump will take Ohio and there will be no changes in the Congressional delegation come 2021.  There are no doubts in this writer’s mind.

Running totals:

Jill Biden starts to wipe the oatmeal dribbling from Joe Biden’s mouth after performing the Heimlich maneuver since Trump now leads in the electoral vote count, 225-223.  With no Senate election, the GOP controls the Senate 48-42 as a smirk forms on the face of Mitch McConnell and tears swell in the eyes of Chuckie Schumer.  Worse, Nancy Pelosi puts away the designer ice cream and picks up a bottle of vodka because her party now leads 181-174 which is way, way too close at this stage.

Next: North Carolina

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