2020 Presidential Elections State-by-State Guide: Once a swing state, Ohio could stand by its Republican base now

The Democratic Party has decided to devote more resources to other states in recent years after Donald Trump bagged the Buckeye State in 2016


                            2020 Presidential Elections State-by-State Guide: Once a swing state, Ohio could stand by its Republican base now
Ohio State Flag (US Public Domain)
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State

OHIO

Primary dates

Was to be held March 17, 2020 (Tuesday) - Postponed 

Type: Semi-open

Democratic delegates: 153 (136 pledged, 17 super)

Republican delegates 82

Governor

Mike DeWine (Republican)

Senators

Sherrod Brown (Democratic) & Robert Portman (R)

Representatives: 16 

Twelve Republican: Steve Chabot (1st district), Brad Wenstrup (2nd district), Jim Jordan (4th district), Robert Latta (5th district), Bill Johnson (6th district), Bob Gibbs (7th district), Warren Davidson (8th district), Michael Turner (10th district), Troy Balderson (12th district), David Joyce (14th district), Steve Stivers (15th district), Anthony Gonzalez (16th district)

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Four Democratic: Joyce Beatty (3rd district), Marcy Kaptur (9th district), Marcia Fudge (11th district), Tim Ryan (13th district)

Electoral college votes: 18 

Donald Trump won all of them in 2016

How Ohio has voted in presidential elections in the past:

Ohio, one of the major swing states, became a member of the Union in March 1803. It took part in the presidential election for the first time in 1804 and has become a major battleground between the red and blue in recent years. Though the Buckeye State’s electoral vote count has come down compared to the past but still its votes are close enough. The state had last voted against the winner in 1960 when it preferred Richard Nixon over John F Kennedy. In 2004, George W Bush had a close win (two percent) over rival John Kerry while in 2016, Trump beat Hillary Clinton by over eight points - the biggest difference since George H W Bush beat Michael Dukakis in 1988. Ohio has been losing population and lost one-third of its electoral vote clout since the 1960s when it had 25. It lost two electoral votes after the 2010 Census and will lose one more after this year’s election. 

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Ohio was once a big swing state

As per the conventional wisdom in American politics, a presidential candidate cannot become the president without first winning Ohio. Since 1860, barring a few exceptions, whoever has won Ohio has gone on to win the presidency. But experts nowadays believe Ohio no more commands that much significance and the change has happened because of the changing demographics. While Ohio voters are becoming whiter, older and less school-educated, those in other states like North Carolina, Georgia and others went in the opposite direction.

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This means Ohio is becoming a solid Republican state while others are becoming more Democratic. The change of character of the once famous swing state has made both the Republican and Democratic parties decide to devote less resources to Ohio and especially the Democrats are now focusing on other states while making the Buckeye State one of the second-tier goals.

The Republicans believe it is not just the demography but also their heavy investments in the state that has made Ohio a GOP-tilting one. They think the state is also culturally Republican. In the 2018 midterm elections, 12 of the 16 congressional districts went to the GOP while the Senate seats have remained divided between the two parties. 

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Ohio and 2020 presidential election

The Dems believe that they are not too far from their last presidential win in Ohio which was in 2012 and are convinced that Trump’s popularity rate in the state is now lower than before. His net approval rate in Ohio is zero despite his win in the 2016 polls.
 
Kyle Kondik, a former reporter who once worked for Democratic former attorney general of Ohio Richard Codray, however, feels Trump has brought in a trend which will push Ohio to the GOP’s kitty this year as well. “People are voting more on kind of these big cultural issues: same-sex marriage, abortion rights and then kind of harder-to-quantify kind of cultural issues, like whether Colin Kaepernick kneels during the ‘Pledge of Allegiance’ during an NFL game – you know, issues of sort of patriotism and national identity,” Kondik said.  “And I think what the president has done is made the Republican Party sort of more of the kind of populist cultural party, which arguably was already, but I think Trump kind of hyper charged that sort of trend,” he said. 

In the Democratic camp, meanwhile, Joe Biden was doing well in Ohio ahead of the primary. According to an Emerson College poll released earlier this month, Biden had a 22-point lead over Bernie Sanders in the state. 
 
Both the candidates are hoping to do well in that state to prove their strengths with the white working class that tilted towards the president four years back. Experts believe Biden’s win in Michigan could have a spill-over effect on Ohio’s results as well. In 2016, Sanders lost to Hillary Clinton in the Ohio primary by 13 points. In the GOP, Trump lost the Ohio primary to local leader John Kasich by 11 percent points in 2016. 

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