Ohio 10th District
Cleveland, one of America’s great cities at the beginning of the 20th century, faced major hardships in the latter half of the century. It grew up as a center of heavy industry. This was the original base of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil. The city’s deep, twisting Cuyahoga River was the site of several of the nation’s largest steel mills. Great industrial fortunes built civic institutions like the museums in Wade Park, Case Western University and the Cleveland Symphony, and they financed the campaigns of northeast Ohio Republican Presidents James Garfield and William McKinley. On the old Public Square, designed like a New England town green by the Yankees who settled this Western Reserve (the northeast corner of Ohio) in the early 19th century, the two eccentric Van Sweringen brothers, trolley magnates of the early 20th century, built the Terminal Tower, for many years the highest skyscraper in interior America. As an ethnic city with more than 40 nationalities—Hungarians, Czechs, Serbs, Croatians, Poles, Italians, Germans—and many distinct ethnic neighborhoods, it produced a robust two-party politics. In the 1930s, after CIO unions organized steel factories and auto-assembly plants, Cleveland became solidly Democratic, though with some affluent Republican suburbs.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
Disgruntled by local taxes, Rockefeller and his corporate operations moved to New York, and Cleveland never led the nation as it had hoped. America’s fourth largest city in 1910, it was overtaken in size first by Detroit and eventually by the likes of Houston and Dallas. Today, it’s the center of the nation’s 26th-largest metropolitan area, having fallen below Cincinnati in 2007. That year, more people left Cleveland and Cuyahoga County than any other major city or county. The central city declined from 914,000 in 1950 to 405,000 in 2007, with a Census Bureau projection that it may soon fall below 400,000. As the children who grew up in the tightly packed neighborhoods have made more money and moved to the close-in suburbs and then outer suburban counties, fewer new immigrants have taken their place; a modest sign of hope has been the growth of the Asian community. The 1970s were a hard decade for Cleveland, which became an object of ridicule nationally. Its heavy industries were fast declining, corporate headquarters were departing, Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River were badly polluted (the river caught fire in June 1969), and the city faced bankruptcy under the youthful Democratic Mayor Dennis Kucinich. The city government was rescued by Republican George Voinovich, elected mayor in 1979. Downtown Cleveland slowly revived, with the theater district center at Playhouse Square, the Jacobs Field baseball stadium, Gund Arena, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. People now swim in a restored Lake Erie. Restaurants and pleasure-boat docks line the Cuyahoga. In Brook Park, NASA’s Glenn Research Center is developing the service module for the next generation of the space shuttle.
The 10th Congressional District of Ohio includes most of the west side of Cleveland and the western and southern suburbs in Cuyahoga County. Excluded is one salient of mostly black Cleveland precincts, which are attached to the 11th District across the river. Suburbs in the 10th include Lakewood, still comfortable middle-class territory, plus Rocky River and Bay Village. Inland is Parma, a creation of the 1950s, when second- and third-generation ethnics moved out to subdivision houses set amid what was once America’s densest concentration of bowling alleys. The political tradition is primarily Democratic. In 2008, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama won the district with 59% of the vote to 39% for Republican John McCain.