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

Obama channels Chris Rock again

At rallies for Democrats in Maryland and Illinois on Sunday, Obama dropped the name "Cousin Pookie" -- a character that he used frequently to energize black voters during his 2008 campaign -- during his speeches.

Oliver beats Supreme Court's camera ban
Comedian John Oliver is sick of the Supreme Court ban on cameras in the court room and the ridiculous ways it makes television news stations have to cover those cases. But all hope is not lost. “What happens at the Supreme Court is way too important not to pay attention to and yet the ban […]
Stewart and Colbert go after 'Fangate'

Both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert had a field day with “Fangate” Thursday night.

O'Reilly v Stewart on 'white privilege'

Jon Stewart had one goal in bringing Bill O’Reilly on his show Tuesday evening: "I want you to admit that there is such a thing as white privilege."

Galifianakis gives Obama a nickname
Zach Galifianakis once came up with a very special nickname for President Obama, he recounted on “The Daily Show” Tuesday night. It all started when Galifianakis came to the White House to film the Emmy-winning “Between Two Ferns” episode to promote Obamacare. “Before we went to interview the president, I ate in the White House […]

White House

President Obama, unpaid bills and the curious editing of the White House transcript
President Obama, some unpaid bills and a curiously “inaudible” section of the White House recording of a speech — that’s how all good stories start, right? While at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Chicago, Obama cracked a joke about the “unpaid bills” at his home. The joke was reported by the White House Press […]
Secrecy shrouds how the Obamas cook their chicken wings

Now it seems the Obamas are tight-lipped even about their eating habits.

Obama delivers devastating blow to red state Democrats, calls them ‘all folks who vote with me’
President Obama can’t seem to stay out of the 2014 midterm elections, no matter how much his fellow Democrats want him to. Obama spoke on Al Sharpton’s radio show Monday, which was later replayed on MSNBC, insisting that red state Democrats are still his “strong allies.” “A lot of the states that are contested this time […]
Obama reveals his favorite Supreme Court decision

President Obama dished on his favorite Supreme Court decision during his presidency, and it wasn’t either of his interviewer’s top guesses.

Poll: Obama less ‘effective’ at ‘managing basic functions’ of government than George W. Bush
Since his popularity and approval ratings began to slide during his second term, former President George W. Bush has served as a scapegoat for Democrats and current President Obama. Bush’s name has been invoked with almost every negative event that has come America’s way. But it seems that the “blame Bush” strategy hasn’t made the […]

Congress

Republicans say they will reform the IRS

Republicans are talking about reforming the IRS if they gain the majority in the Senate next month, but seem to be treading with caution on making any specific promises.

'Wastebook' finds $25B in 'unnecessary' spending
Monkey gambling, synchronized swimming sea monkeys, and mountain lions on treadmills, oh my! Sen. Tom Coburn (R – Okla.) released his fifth and final “Wastebook” Wednesday, chronicling $25 billion tax dollars spent on 100  “silly, unnecessary, and low priority projects” this year. His findings are absolutely astonishing. Coburn, who is retiring this year, is not letting his fellow […]
Dems target Republicans as extremists on ed issues

Democrats this election cycle are working hard to paint their Republican opponents as wild extremists who would slash all funding for student loans.

Udall struggles to think of his favorite books

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) seemed a bit rattled in his recent interview with ABC 7 News.

Rand Paul: W.H. hasn’t accurately described Ebola
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told Bloomberg politics he believes that the White House has been inaccurately depicting the risks of contracting Ebola. “I think from the very beginning they haven’t been completely forthright with us,” said Paul. “They’ve so wanted to downplay this that they really I don’t think have been very accurate in their […]