The Weekly Beef: Enough About Ohio

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By: Ralph E. Shaffer

The experts are wrong. Ohio is not the key to the White House. Mitt Romney may lose without Ohio, but history shows he could also lose despite winning the state.

Since the first Republican ran for President and carried Ohio in 1856 (he lost the election, by the way), 16 different Republicans have taken Ohio and been elected President. But in that same period, five Republican candidates won Ohio’s electoral vote and still lost the election. Romney could be the sixth.

Weakening Romney’s chance of election even further, those five losing Republicans who won Ohio were, like Romney, not Ohioans. Romney’s chances would be better had he moved from Michigan to Ohio instead of Massachusetts — although he’s spent so much time in Ohio these last few weeks, he might have a claim to residency there.

Until the Great Depression, Ohio was not a “battleground” in most presidential elections. (What ever happened to the phrase “swing states”? Perhaps a condition of perpetual warfare has shaped our terminology.) The state went Republican in every Presidential contest from 1856 until 1932, with the exception of Woodrow Wilson’s two wins.

Beginning with Franklin Roosevelt’s first victory in 1932, Ohio has split its votes evenly between Republicans and Democrats, each party winning 10 of 20 elections held from that date until now. For 80 years Ohio has been a swing state, usually swinging to the side that takes the Presidency.

Does that make Ohio something special? Just ask Californians. Neither Romney nor the President has made any significant appearance in that state other than to raise money, lots of it. Nor have they spent any of their advertising money on TV or radio commercials in California. Why? Because California in recent years has been as attached to one party, the Democrats, as Ohio once was to Republicans.

Well, not quite. No one has yet come up with a rule that ties a Democratic victory to a win in California. It’s time to shelve that “No Republican has won without Ohio” canard. It belongs with that other slogan that voters got sick of hearing: “As Maine goes, so goes the nation.” - Ralph E. Shaffer, Covina, CA, Covina, CA

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