Ohio 13th District
Fifty years ago, most of the people of metro Cleveland were clustered in the city itself, in tightly packed blocks of houses above the Cuyahoga River valley and its giant steel mills. Around the city, were some comfortable suburbs, and beyond them, miles of farm fields before you encountered the nearby industrial cities—Akron, the “Rubber Capital” with its Firestone, B. F. Goodrich and Goodyear tire factories, and Lorain, a sort of mini-Cleveland on Lake Erie with steel mills lining the narrow Black River. Since then, the population of Cleveland has fallen by half, and the metropolitan area has spread out over the northern Ohio countryside. The suburbs now spread from Cleveland to Akron without interval. The shoreline from Cleveland to Lorain has been filled in. Medina County, between Lorain and Akron, has also been transformed from farmland to suburbia. Only the Cuyahoga River valley between Cleveland and Akron has been off-limits to development, protected by the creation of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The economy has changed as well. In 1950, Cleveland depended on heavy manufacturing, especially steel, and Akron was reliant on tires. Today, most of the steel mills are shuttered or torn down, most of the old tire factories have been converted to other uses, and in 2005, Ford closed its assembly plant in Lorain. But Akron has memorialized the past in the National Inventors Hall of Fame and has developed itself as the “Polymer Center of America,” with 80% of the nation’s polymer research and a first-class polymer engineering program at the University of Akron. In 2007, the city began an innovative project to turn sewage sludge into electricity. Downtown Akron has been revived by entertainment areas, the University of Akron, and some upscale housing. Still, the city’s population dropped by 7,300 from 2000 to 2006.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 13th Congressional District of Ohio is made up of much of this metro Cleveland area, though none of the city itself. It includes the west side of Akron and its western suburbs. The lines separating it from the 14th and 17th Districts in Akron’s Summit County are absurdly convoluted. It encompasses the northern and eastern parts of Lorain County, including Lorain and Elyria just to the south; the southern tier of suburban townships in Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County—Strongsville, North Royalton, Broadview Heights; and the northern tier of suburban townships in Medina County, including Brunswick. Fifty years ago, this area would have been Republican, with Democratic precincts in Akron and Lorain. Today, as Clevelanders have spread far and wide, it is Democratic, though not overwhelmingly so. Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush twice got 44% of the vote here. In 2008, Democrat. Barack Obama won the district with 57%.