The Ohio-Republican Myth

Mitt Romney doesn’t need to win Ohio to win the presidential election, he needs to do so well overall that he ends up winning Ohio. There’s a huge difference.

First, remember that correlation is not causation. Ohio voters do not cause voters in other states to vote one way or another, such that securing Ohio votes secures votes in other states. Ohio reflects a larger trend, but it is the best predictor of who will take the White House?

Second, it’s true that since the first election in which Republicans participated in 1856, the party that won Ohio, won the White House.  However, since 1928 the same statistic is true for Colorado, Florida, Nevada, and Virginia, all swing states. Why the obsessive focus on Ohio?

For the first 75 years following the Civil War, Ohio was a much more Republican state than it is today. Thus, it’s not surprising that Ohio had a perfect record predicting Republican wins during that period.

Then Ohio went for Roosevelt in 1932, 1936, and 1940.  Since then, shifting demographics morphed Ohio into its present-day, racially-mixed, blue-collar, purple condition.

After 75 years of being solidly Republican, another 75 years of good luck as a swing state in predicting elections—but no better than Florida, Virginia, Colorado, or Nevada—gave Ohio its current bellwether reputation.

But none of those swing states was as Republican as Ohio in the 75 years prior to 1928. This explains why none of their track records goes as far back as Ohio’s in picking Republicans. Specifically, Ohio voted for the Republican candidate 89 percent of the time in elections between 1856 and 1924, compared to 60 percent for Nevada, 58 percent for Colorado, 18 percent for Florida, and 6 percent for Virginia.

Saying Ohio was a bellwether state for Republicans from 1856 to 1924 is like saying Kansas was a bellwether state for Republicans during that period. Imagine if Kansas’s demographics had shifted during the Great Depression, such that a greater proportion of Democrats began flooding in, and Kansas suddenly became a swing state. Then everyone would be proclaiming today that no Republican president has ever won the White House without winning Kansas.

In short, for 75 years Ohio was Kansas, then it turned purple and had a string of luck predicting elections for 75 years (like Florida, Virginia, Colorado, and Nevada); ergo, pundits consider Ohio an infallible barometer of the national political soul back to Abraham Lincoln.

Ohio is the Republican bellwether state—until it isn’t. One of these days, a Republican is going to win the election without Ohio, and it could happen in 2012.  Pundits will simply move the starting date of their metric to the earliest date after which one of the other swing states had a perfect record, then declare this new state the hurdle Republicans must clear to win the general election.

Instead of camping out in Ohio for the next week, Romney should focus on connecting with as many voters in all of the swing states as possible, and hope that his nationwide momentum spreads to the important, but not eternally-important Ohio.

Comments

Polititainment

'Madam Secretary' wants an ideal D.C.
CBS’s new show “Madam Secretary” may be inspired by some of the most polarizing and entrenched political figures in Washington D.C., but the showrunners and cast say they want to portray a less polarizing and negative D.C. on screen. POLITICO’s Playbook Lunch on Friday featured show creator Barbara Hall, executive producers Morgan Freeman and Lori […]
Obama praises Joan Rivers

President Obama must really want to maintain his popularity in Hollywood. Why else would he write a letter to Melissa Rivers praising her mother and late comedian Joan Rivers, the same woman who called him gay and his wife a "tranny" in July?

TDS: Biden hasn't been out of the house

"The Daily Show" had some fun Thursday night with the VP's recent double whammy of off-color remarks.

GoT Author to host Democrat Fundraiser
The red fundraiser? In this case, the appropriate color is probably blue. George R.R. Martin, the author of the popular book series “A Song of Ice and Fire” and the inspiration for HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” will host a fundraiser for Sen. Tom Udall (D- N.M.) in early October. According to Udall’s campaign, the event will […]
Jay Carney's son performs at White House

The former White House press secretary and now CNN political commentator tweeted out a photo of his son's band Twenty20 performing at a White House event Monday evening.

White House

Michelle Obama says Americans ‘take for granted’ Obama’s presidency
First Lady Michelle Obama proudly defended her husband during a speech at the opening reception of the Democratic National Committee’s Women’s Leadership Forum, telling the audience that people take her husband “for granted.” “Just think about how different our country looks to children growing up today. Think about how our kids take for granted that a […]
Security breaches prompt more White House security
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Secret Service tightened security outside the White House after an embarrassing breach in which a man with a knife scaled a fence, ran across the lawn and made it all the way inside before agents stopped him. Increased surveillance and more officer patrols are among the measures that Secret Service Director Julia Pierson ordered. […]
He gaffes again! Biden praises disgraced former Senator Bob Packwood

Ranking Joe Biden gaffes is like running down the deck of the Titanic -- in the end it's just a race to the bottom and no one ever wins. And yet the vice president continues to provide more candidates for his greatest hits.

Joe Biden should never be allowed to support a Redskins name change

Imagine for a moment a tied Senate vote urging the Washington Redskins to change their team name. Into the chamber steps Joe Biden.

Gaffetastic vice-president apologizes for slur

Vice-President Joe Biden apologized Wednesday for his use of an ethnic slur in a speech this week.

Congress

House GOP replaces firm handling Obama suit
THE HILL — House Republicans said they’ve hired new counsel to represent them in their lawsuit against President Obama after their previous lawyer backed out of the case over “political pressure.” They inked a contract on Friday with William A. Burck of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart. The New York Times reported that the GOP’s previous attorney, David Rivkin of […]
Convicted felon running for Congress

Edwin W. Edwards recently spent nine years in prison after being convicted for extorting millions of dollars in exchange for riverboat gambling licenses, and now he's running for office.

Rand Paul: Millennials 'aren't as wedded to party'
Sen. Rand Paul (R – Ky.) seems to have the majority of millennials figured out. The presidential hopeful spoke with The Federalist this week about his foreign policy views and the shift toward libertarian views among millennials. “I think the libertarian influence, the libertarian-ish Republican, the libertarian conservatives in many ways is great for the […]
Democrats turn on Debbie Wasserman Schultz
POLITICO – Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is in a behind-the-scenes struggle with the White House, congressional Democrats and Washington insiders who have lost confidence in her as both a unifying leader and reliable party spokesperson at a time when they need her most. Long-simmering doubts about her have reached a peak after two […]
'Finally, we're gonna audit the Fed'

The House passed a bill Wednesday afternoon to audit the Federal Reserve, a long-time crusade of former Rep. Ron Paul and libertarians.