Ohio 8th District
Since the early 20th century, the far west end of Ohio—where U.S. 40, the old National Road, heads straight as an arrow in its last miles across Ohio and into Indiana—has been some of the nation’s prime industrial country. The Great and Little Miami rivers drain south into the Ohio, and U.S. 40 jogs southward twice to go over the Miami and Stillwater river dams, built after the great flood of 1913, which killed 361 people in Dayton and caused $1 billion in damage. After the recession of the early 1980s, Ohioans around Dayton and Cincinnati, in large factory towns like Middletown and Hamilton and smaller factory towns like Troy and Piqua, adapted to new conditions and began to produce exports for Europe, Latin America and Asia as well as for the American market. At the same time, people leaving the central cities of Dayton and Cincinnati moved into new subdivisions amid shopping malls and office parks in Butler County. Hamilton, the Butler County seat founded in 1791, lost jobs when International Paper shut down a plant, but many more were created. Again this decade, the region was hit inordinately hard by a recession because of its reliance on manufacturing. In 2007, AK Steel moved its corporate headquarters and 300 employees from Middletown, the area’s second-largest city, to nearby West Chester Township. And in 2008, Forbes magazine called Middletown one of America’s fastest-dying cities, citing rising poverty and the relatively low percentage of college graduates. In February 2009, the unemployment level in Butler County reached a 25-year high, and Middletown and Hamilton also reported double-digit jobless rates. West Chester Township has been one of the few bright spots in recent years. Its population has steadily increased since 2000, and its business-friendly climate has attracted new economic activity, including a new Amylin Pharmaceuticals facility and a new GE Aviation facility.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 8th Congressional District of Ohio covers much of this territory. It includes all of Butler County, except four lightly populated townships, two counties to the north on the Indiana line and part of a third. It also includes Miami County north of Dayton and the northeastern corner of Montgomery County, including part of Dayton, all of Huber Heights and part of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Politically, this is very Republican territory; the district twice gave George W. Bush more than 60% of the vote. It voted 61% for GOP presidential nominee John McCain in 2008.