Ohio 4th District
Central Ohio looks mostly like farmland to the traveler. Yet this is manufacturing country, indeed one of America’s premier manufacturing areas, where the economy is based on factories in small towns and on rural highways. These places seem far from anywhere important, yet are on one of the great east-west routes—the old rail lines and newer highways—that cross the country. They seem old-fashioned and rooted in an older technological time, with some exceptions. Wapakoneta is the hometown of Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, and has the Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum. A county away is Bellefontaine, site of the first concrete street in America. Politically, this crossroads on the flat limestone plains of northern Ohio is one of the Republican heartlands of the United States. It has been quietly prosperous most of the years since World War II, though it has been hurt by the continuing erosion of the automobile, steel and coal industries and troubled by recent manufacturing job losses, including the planned closing of a General Motors facility in Mansfield that employs 700 people. In 2008, Siemens announced that it was closing its plant in Bellefontaine. But considering its old-line economic base, central Ohio seemed to be surviving the recession better than other parts of the state. Lima had reason to be optimistic when Procter & Gamble made plans to build a massive new warehouse to distribute liquid Tide detergent, which is produced in a factory a mile away. And ethanol production is a growth industry in the area.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
Much of central Ohio makes up the 4th Congressional District. It includes Lima, where Standard Oil drilled what was once the largest oil field in the nation; Marion, where young socialist-to-be Norman Thomas delivered newspapers edited by president-to-be Warren Harding; and Mansfield, home of John Sherman, one of Ohio’s great 19th century Republican statesmen, and his brother General William Tecumseh Sherman, who marched his troops through Georgia for the Union. This has been a Republican stronghold since the Civil War. Republican George W. Bush twice carried the district with 62% and 65% of the vote respectively in 2000 and 2004. The district was one of the reasons he carried Ohio, and the presidency, a second time. Republican presidential nominee John McCain carried the district with 60% in 2008.