Ohio 16th District
A little more than a century ago, Canton, Ohio, was at the center of American politics. It was already an industrial city, though unlike Youngstown and Cleveland, it didn’t have huge steel factories. Its high-skill workers were fashioning new kinds of plows and reapers, making watches and, beginning in 1899, roller bearings. Canton did not attract masses of immigrants. Its factories did not run on harsh stopwatch discipline, and the class-warfare politics of other northern Ohio industrial cities did not take root here. Its most famous citizen was Republican President William McKinley, who rose to the rank of major at 22 in the Civil War, was elected congressman and governor, and chaired the House Ways and Means Committee. As the Republican nominee for president in 1896, McKinley campaigned from his front porch in Canton, meeting with delegations brought in by train from around the country. This spectacle, displaying both technological virtuosity and personal modesty, sounded a reverberating note in American politics, as did the McKinley platform—the “full dinner pail,” the gold standard, the enforcement of law and order in labor relations. More than a century later, Canton is a community still based on manufacturing, but one troubled by manufacturing job losses, including those stemming from the crash of the domestic auto industry in 2009. Less widely reported are new jobs in smaller factories, like an Alliance casting plant reopened to make rail-car parts with 420 jobs. However, Canton has suffered a net loss of jobs in recent years. It has become best known as the home of the Professional Football Hall of Fame, with its football-shaped roof.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 16th Congressional District of Ohio includes all of Canton and Stark County, plus Wayne County to the west and most of Ashland and Medina counties. Wayne County is home to the College of Wooster and the headquarters of Smuckers, which has acquired new brands from other food companies—Jif peanut butter, Hungry Jack pancakes, and Folgers Coffee. In the southern part of the county is the largest Amish settlement in the world, where people drive horse-drawn tractors, eschew automobiles and electricity, and quit school after the eighth grade. Tourism has been a growth industry in Amish country, with restaurants, bed-and-breakfasts and gift shops. Ashland is a smaller, non-metropolitan county. Johnny Appleseed once lived on what is now the campus of Ashland University. Medina County, north of Wayne, is part of the Cleveland metropolitan area. Politically, this area is generally Republican, though not always by wide margins. Stark County was the only Ohio county that Republican George W. Bush carried in 2000 but lost in 2004, both times by narrow margins. In 2008, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama won the county 52%-46%, but it wasn’t enough for him to win the entire district, which voted 50%-48% for Republican John McCain.