Ohio 2nd District
For a long time, one of the most Republican urban areas in the nation has been the Cincinnati suburbs. Back in the 1850s, when Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin here, Cincinnati was an island of German, pro-Union, Republican sentiment in a Southern, Democratic, pro-slavery region. Later, Cincinnati attracted fewer southern and eastern European immigrants than Great Lakes industrial cities like Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago. The city’s ethnic character and political preference, like its physical appearance, remained pretty well fixed until very recently. Even many descendents of the Appalachians here are Republicans, from Civil War Republican counties in the hills. Democratic constituencies here never got very large. Economically, it was never a strong union town, and culturally, its conservatism was revealed in a strong anti-pornography movement that made this the site of obscenity charges filed against Hustler publisher Larry Flynt. The local Republican record remains intact: It was the only million-plus metro area that George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole carried by more than 50% in 1992 and 1996, and George W. Bush twice won the district handily. In 2008, Republican presidential nominee John McCain beat Democrat Barack Obama in the metro area.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
For 140 years after 1852, Cincinnati and surrounding Hamilton County were divided by a north-south line into two congressional districts. But today, both Cincinnati-based districts include territory in other counties. Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District includes the eastern edge of Cincinnati and the boutiques of Hyde Park Square, a more transient area than the west side neighborhoods; the mostly affluent suburban subdivisions of eastern Hamilton County; and the fast-growing suburbs of Clermont County and southern Warren County. In once-rural Clermont, Miami Township has become a bedroom community and a center of commercial development along the Interstate 275 Loop. The district also ranges farther east on the Ohio River, all the way to the old industrial city of Portsmouth and the hills of rural Pike County. These are distinctly different places—“the richest to the poorest, and everything in between,” as one area mayor put it. The metropolitan parts of the district, with roughly 80% of the people, are mostly affluent and Republican. The counties farther east are less well off, with most of the old factories gone and with pockets of high unemployment and poverty. They are close to marginal in most elections, and Pike County has a Democratic tradition. Portsmouth, on the district’s eastern fringe, has a depressed economy and an Appalachian frame of mind. Overall, this is a very Republican district with a tiny minority population. McCain won the district with 59% to Obama’s 40%.