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It's All About Ohio It's All About Ohio

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Elections 2012

It's All About Ohio

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A"Vote Early" sign in displayed as former President Bill Clinton speaks at a President Barack Obama campaign rally, Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, in Youngstown, Ohio.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

In many ways, this election is all about Ohio. For one, it is a swing state whose votes are likely to tip the election toward President Obama or Mitt Romney. Accordingly, the candidates have spent much of their time and efforts on the state. But Ohio's significance is greater than electoral votes. The troubles facing Ohio voters mirror the nation's anxieties: The threat of Chinese competition, unemployment, a recovering auto industry, and the future of American energy loom large.

Below, a collection of National Journal dispatches and analyses from the Buckeye State.

 

In a Twist, the Democrat Is Dependent on Ohio

Republicans generally have relied on an Ohio win to decide a tight presidential race. President Obama is hoping to break that trend.

Ron Brownstein reports:

 

And yet to win Ohio this year, Obama may need to do something Democrats have almost never done in the past nine decades: win a higher share of the vote in the state than he does nationally. Almost always, the GOP nominee has run stronger in Ohio than nationally. That’s not entirely surprising in a place that served as one of the birthplaces of the Republican Party and where two native sons, William McKinley and his legendary political strategist Mark Hanna, stamped the GOP’s modern identity as the pro-business party of small government in the realigning election of 1896.

The Battle of the Bailout

In the working-class regions of Northern Ohio, Obama’s reelection bid shows surprising strength. Although Romney is generally favored among white voters without college degrees, Obama's auto bailout propped up the region, earning him favor in the area. The result: The working-class white vote in Ohio could swing. Jill Lawrence reports:

The auto industry revival is helping Obama hold his own with noncollege voters in battlegrounds such as Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Combined with Romney’s inability so far to make the sale, that could make all the difference on Nov. 6.

The Forgotten Voters

Despite the troubled economy, neither Obama nor Mitt Romney has visited 99 of the 100 counties with the highest unemployment rates. Why are they being ignored? Beth Reinhard reports from one of those counties in Ohio:

 

Obama and Romney have spent more time campaigning in Ohio than in any other state, but neither has been to Pike County, where the 12.9 percent unemployment rate is the worst in the state. This community on the western edge of Appalachia is a casualty of modern presidential politics; even in a campaign obsessed with jobs, the nominees consistently pass over the communities with the highest unemployment numbers in favor of more prosperous parts of the country.

The Ohio Voters Who Could Spell the End for Romney

Why is Mitt Romney viewed with suspicion in blue-collar coal country? 

The Atlantic's Molly Ball reports:

For Romney to win this election, he needed to hang onto the voters John McCain won four years ago, then convert just a small percentage of disaffected former Obama supporters. A few months ago, this didn't seem like a tall order. It was hard to imagine anyone who voted against Obama in his landslide year--when antagonism to President Bush was at its height, and all the momentum was behind Obama's lofty promise of hope and change--turning around and supporting the president now that his image has been dented by four rough and unhopeful years.

Why the Rust Belt Is More Critical Than the Sun Belt

President Obama, in this election cycle, cannot rely solely only on a coalition of the ascendant--youth, minorities, and college educated--to reelect him. On Nov. 6, he'll need to hold on to Rust Belt voters. 

Ron Brownstein reports:

While not conceding the Sun Belt states, Obama’s campaign increasingly seems to view the three Rust Belt swing states, especially Ohio, as its castle keep: the last line of defense in its plan to reach the 270 Electoral College votes required for victory. "In some ways," acknowledges one Democratic strategist close to the Obama campaign, "the Rust Belt states are better than they were for us four years ago and the Sun Belt states are tougher."

Why China Matters in Ohio

Ohio has become the battleground for the candidates to bash China's trade practices. Why? In this part of the country, manufacturing jobs are a top concern.

Coral Davenport reports:

Long before China became a big topic in the presidential race, Ohio’s Democratic senator, Sherrod Brown, took up the cause of slamming China for its trade, manufacturing, and currency practices. For years, Brown has been the Senate’s most dogged advocate of protectionist bills -- even criticizing Obama for not being tough enough on China's trade practices.

The Foreign-Policy Debate Was All About Ohio

The candidates' responses in the third presidential debate seemed tailored to the concerns of the Ohio voter: China, the auto bailout, and taxes.

Major Garrett reports:

Ohio is a legendary producer of American tires, though that industry is a shadow of its former self. Still, Team Obama believes that reminding Ohio voters that Romney specifically slammed the tire move in his 2010 book No Apology is a winner. Romney called the trade gambit protectionist, which, classically defined, it was. Consumers paid higher prices for tires than they otherwise would have. Democrats in Ohio have trumpeted increased tire production and job gains since Obama imposed the tire tariffs.

Sherrod Brown's Liberal Crusade

The gravel-voiced, sneaker-wearing senator from Ohio has found a winning message based on China-bashing, auto-industry jobs, and clean energy. And it could save the White House for President Obama.

Coral Davenport reports:

The gravel-voiced, sneaker-wearing senator from Ohio has found a winning message based on China-bashing, auto-industry jobs, and clean energy. And it could save the White House for President Obama.

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