Ohio 5th District
Undergirded by limestone, as flat and fertile as any place in America, northwest Ohio was economically productive from the time it was settled. Parts of it were known as the “Firelands,” reserved for Connecticut Yankees whose farms were burned in the Revolution, and neat and substantial small towns were built by German Protestants in the mid-19th century. Northwest Ohio is the beginning of the great corn and hog belt that stretches through Indiana and Illinois into Iowa, and has long been a Republican heartland. Fremont, settled by abstemious Yankees, was the home of President Rutherford B. Hayes, whose wife, Lucy, served only lemonade in the White House. Nearby Sandusky was settled by Germans who built big wineries and breweries.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
This is also prime industrial country. Its limestone, rail connections and location near the Great Lakes have spurred the growth of a factory economy that financially is far more important than agriculture. After the first settlement, northwest Ohio grew steadily for many decades, surging ahead in the 1950s and 1960s as its small factories supplied the big auto plants in Detroit and in cities in Ohio. Growth lagged noticeably in the 1980s, when the domestic auto industry collapsed, but rebounded somewhat as small firms sold not only to the Big Three but to foreign customers. That gave this area the highest percentage of blue-collar workers in the state. Honda has dozens of suppliers in the area, though many parts companies continue to cut back with the continuing financial troubles of the domestic auto industry.
The 5th Congressional District of Ohio sweeps across northwest Ohio, from northern Ashland County, almost within the ambit of metro Cleveland, across the limestone plains through Sandusky County and Fremont, past the university town of Bowling Green and the Toledo suburb of Perrysburg, to the towns of Defiance and Napoleon and on to the northwest corner where Ohio borders Michigan and Indiana. Its factories include the aromatic Heinz ketchup plant in Fremont—the world’s largest, with the equivalent of 4 million 14-ounce bottles produced every day—and the largest Whirlpool washing machine plant in Clyde, both in Sandusky County. Bowling Green is the site of the state’s first wind turbines and gets about 20% of its electricity from renewable sources. Locals now call it “Blowing Green.” Historically, this has been a solidly Republican district since the Civil War. President George W. Bush won it 61%-39% in 2004, and Republican nominee John McCain won it 53% to 45% in 2008.