Ohio 15th District
Smack in the center of Ohio, Columbus was founded in 1812 as the state capital. Its flat-domed Capitol at Broad and High, with the statue of President William McKinley out front, is surrounded by high-rises; the city has grown in all directions into the countryside and is on the verge of becoming a large metropolis. It is the headquarters of state government and the Ohio State University, which, with more than 52,000 students, has the highest enrollment of any campus in the nation. It is the headquarters of the Batelle Memorial Institute, the think tank that helped invent compact discs, office copy machines and the Universal Product Code; a major industry here is data retrieval. After annexing many suburbs and doubling its geography since 1967, Columbus is now Ohio’s largest central city by far, with 724,000 people in 2007. Franklin County has nearly 1.1 million. Given the suburban growth, more people in the seven-county metro area now live outside than inside the Interstate 270 outer belt, which was completed in the 1980s. Former farm towns are booming. Columbus has built civic landmarks—the Center of Science and Industry on the riverfront, the Jerome Schottenstein Center for sports and concerts at OSU, a hockey stadium for the Columbus Blue Jackets and the nation’s first stadium built for a professional soccer team, the Columbus Crew, the Major League Soccer champions in 2008. There is residential building downtown in thriving entertainment districts. With the nation’s highest proportion of residents age 25 to 34, Columbus has been attracting young professionals and immigrants and continues to be a prime test market for commercial products. BET.com ranked Columbus second, behind Charlotte, N.C., as the nation’s best city for African-American families.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 15th Congressional District of Ohio includes all of Columbus except the east side, plus southern and western Franklin County and once-rural Madison and Union counties to the west. Honda has invested $6 billion in Union County—its projects included a motorcycle plant in 1979 and an auto plant in 1982—though in 2009 it decided to stop production of motorcycles because of declining sales. The 15th includes white working-class areas on the south side of the city and in nearby Grove City. Politically, these Democratic areas long were balanced by the heavily Republican suburb of Upper Arlington, across the Olentangy River from Ohio State, and by Republican subdivisions sprouting up in the exurbs. But since 2004, Columbus has been the target of highly successful registration and turnout drives by Democrats. The 15th District voted only narrowly for Republican President George W. Bush in 2004 and four years later, gave Democratic nominee Barack Obama a 54%-45% win.