Ohio 12th District
Columbus is on the verge of becoming a major metropolis. With city limits stretching toward farmland at each point of the compass, the central city of Columbus had 724,000 people in 2007, far more than Cleveland, with 405,000, or Cincinnati, with 332,000. Columbus’s Franklin County passed the one million mark in the 1990s and was at 1.1 million in 2007. Columbus is centrally located, not only in the center of Ohio, but also just a one-day truck drive from more than half of the nation’s population. It was the only one of the 15 largest cities in Ohio to gain population in the 1990s and has the advantages of being the state capital, the home of the Ohio State University, and a major white-collar employment town. It is the home of Nationwide Insurance, Wendy’s International, and Red Roof Inns. The Limited is based at the Easton Town Center, a huge mall built in the 1990s. Columbus likes to brag that its airfreight operations at Port Columbus, the airport, make it the largest in the country dedicated to cargo. The city’s economic base and civic infrastructure have attracted the kind of upscale, enterprising people who have produced much of America’s growth in recent years. Its rapidly growing foreign-born population—Latinos, Asians, Ethiopians, Russian Jews, and Somalis—exceeds that of Cleveland or Detroit. But the city also has suffered from traditional big-city problems as well, which has spurred a migration of students from public to private schools. The politics of Columbus traditionally were Republican. It had few of the Eastern European immigrants and CIO unions that made Cleveland so Democratic. But in 1999, Columbus elected African-American Democrat Michael Coleman as mayor, and in 2000, Franklin County was carried, though just barely, by Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore. In 2004, thanks to out-migration of whites and a vigorous registration and turnout drive by Democrats, John Kerry carried the county 54%-45%. In 2008, Barack Obama carried it 60%-39%.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 12th Congressional District of Ohio is one of two districts dominated by Columbus and Franklin County. It includes 39% of the city, including most of the east side, plus the affluent suburb of Bexley, site of the Governor’s Mansion, and the northeastern suburbs in Franklin County. It also includes Delaware County, directly north of Columbus, which is Ohio’s fastest-growing county; it grew 50% from 2000 to 2008 and was the 21st-fastest-growing county in the nation. The district takes in most of Licking County east of Columbus, including the small industrial town of Newark and the lovely college town of Granville. With big margins in Delaware and Licking Counties, George W. Bush won here 51%-49% in 2004. But Obama’s Ohio victory switched this district to 54%-45% in his favor.