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

The Daily Show on 'mixed marriages'

The Daily Show has braved one of the great dilemmas of our politicized generation: dating outside your political party.

The Daily Show defends 'manspreading'

“Manspreading”: The defining male rights movement of our generation!

Nancy Grace battles Dr. Drew on pot

Oh, Nancy. Just weeks after gracing the internet with her marijuana debate with 2 Chainz, she's served up another delightful bit of TV: her appalled reaction to discovering that fellow HLN star Dr. Drew is on the 2 Chainz side of this argument.

Stewart: 'Drones love Obama'
Jon Stewart couldn’t stop laughing about the drone found at the White House early Monday morning. A small drone crashed on the White House lawn around 3 a.m. and after several hours in lockdown, Secret Service determined that it did not pose a threat. “Of course it didn’t pose a threat. Drones love Obama. He’s like a one […]
Jonathan Gruber raps to MIT students

If you’ve been dying to see Jonathan Gruber, who credited the “stupidity of the American voter” with passing Obamacare, strip down to his undershirt and rap about economics, today is your lucky day!

White House

Biden: ‘The past six years have been really, really hard for this country,’ ‘tough for our party’

Vice President Joe Biden has a lot of singular qualities—he kills it with the ladies, for example, and is always down for a good ball joke.

HuffPo blogger Obama tells Dems to ‘Get informed, not by reading the Huffington Post’
President Obama offered some pretty ironic advice at the House Democrats annual retreat Thursday. According to The Hill, Obama told his fellow Democrats to hold their fire while the administration works on trade deals that several liberal lawmakers have expressed opposition to. “Keep your powder dry,” he said. How did he suggest doing that? “Get […]
White House: Scrapped 529 plan will still be in budget because it has already been sent to the printers
That awkward moment when even the President of the United States can’t get a print shop to make a small change for him… Just one day after the White House announced that it had caved to political pressure and would not be taxing the 529 college savings plan,  officials also had to admit that this […]
VP Biden appears on ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ to get ask young people to sign up for Obamacare
With three weeks to go until the Obamacare deadline to purchase insurance, the Obama administration is pulling out all the stops to encourage young people to sign up.  The renewed push included a stop by Vice President Joe Biden on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” Monday so he could appeal to moms who are good at […]
Small drone crashes at White House complex, origin unclear
WASHINGTON (AP) — A small drone flying at low altitude crashed into the White House complex before dawn Monday, the Secret Service said. President Barack Obama was not at home and the White House said it did not pose a security threat. The crash prompted an immediate lockdown of the White House grounds until officials […]

Congress

Rubio wants permanent NSA spying law

For Senator Marco Rubio (R- Fla.) reauthorizing government spying isn't quite enough--he wants to permanently enshrine it in law.

Cornyn to Lynch:'You're not Eric Holder, are you?'
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) bluntly asked the only question that seemed to be on every Republican’s mind Wednesday at Loretta Lynch’s confirmation hearing to be the next attorney general. “You’re not Eric Holder, are you?” Cornyn asked. “No, I’m not,” Lynch replied. “I will be myself. I will be Loretta Lynch [if confirmed.]“   Cornyn said […]
Cruz bill would punish IRS targeting with jailtime

Ted Cruz wants IRS employees guilty of targeting to be the ones forking over their money, this time -- and that's at the very least.

CNN interviews Rand Paul on Snapchat

CNN made digital history this week, conducting the first-ever full interview with a lawmaker over Snapchat by snapping with Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.

Boehner and McConnell critique SOTU

“Dead. Real dead.” That was House Speaker John Boehner’s verdict on President Obama’s tax proposals--and nearly every proposal from his State of the Union address, with the exception of cybersecurity, fighting ISIS, trade, and possibly the childcare tax credit.