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

Michael Bay might direct Benghazi movie

Bay, who has spent the last several years gaining popularity for his "Transformers" films, is reportedly in talks to direct the Benghazi film "13 Hours," according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Holder wants Denzel to play him in movie

Holder spoke to The Hill about Hollywood and politics while at an event at the Washington Ideas Forum Wednesday that was hosted by The Aspen Institute and The Atlantic.

'Rival Survival' premiering Wednesday

Senators Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) are getting ready to show America their bipartisan fire-starting skills on "Rival Survival," a reality show starring tho lawmakers that premiers Wednesday night on the Discovery Channel.

Lovitz has a field day with Hillary

Before Hillary Clinton's jobs comment is swept aside as a minor whoopsie, a few words from Jon Lovitz.

John Oliver has some ideas for the FDA

Some people want more nutrition information on food labels--but who really understands those labels anyway?

White House

Russian hackers broke into the White House network

Hackers with suspected ties to the Russian government recently broke into the White House’s unclassified computer network, the Washington Post reported Tuesday night.

Obama is withholding over 15,000 Fast and Furious documents

President Obama claimed executive privilege to withhold over 15,000 documents relating to Operation Fast and Furious, including nearly 20 emails sent between Attorney General Eric Holder and his wife.

White House fence jumper charged with assault
WASHINGTON (AP) — The 23-year-old Maryland man who climbed over the White House fence Wednesday night has been charged with felonies for assaulting two police dogs and making threats, the Secret Service said Thursday. Dominic Adesanya of Bel Air, Maryland, is in custody of the U.S. Marshals Service for previous outstanding warrants, Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary said. […]
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.

Congress

Justin Amash envisions a libertarian Congress

Rep. Justin Amash, the libertarian congressman from Michigan, knows that Congress is far from libertarian. But someday, he thinks that might change.

Rand Paul: The GOP's image ‘sucks’

Rand Paul didn’t mince words about the GOP.

Small college's students thrown into 2014 election

Young people tend not to engage much in the humdrum local politics that go into midterm elections. But what if it’s happening literally in their own backyard?

GOP senator: 'Sorry the government's so f***ed'

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) made some self-deprecating jokes and colorful remarks about the state of the government during a recent private gathering, per a recording provided to CNN by South Carolina Democrats.

Top lawmaker's Ebola claim

A leading House Republican says he is aware of information that points to the United States eventually receiving non-U.S. Ebola patients for treatment.