Ohio 18th District
The hills of eastern Ohio are one of those obscure parts of America, seen by most Americans, if at all, from airplanes or speeding cars on the interstates on their way to someplace else. They were settled early on in U.S. history, in the 1790s, mostly by Virginians, and for the most part remained sparsely populated. This was hard land to clear and hard land to farm, better suited for dairy cattle than the plains that lay beyond. In some places near the Ohio River, there was industrial development early on. The local clay was used to make pottery, the coal that lies near the surface was dug up, a green-vitriol works was built, and a nail factory went into operation, all before 1814. In time, the area became dotted with small factory towns and coal mines. Farther south there was little industrial development, and today that landscape has a timeless feel. This region was little affected by the flow of immigrants from Europe in 1880-1924, southern blacks in 1940-1965 or Latino and Asian immigrants since 1970. Some counties have seen sharp job losses, as coal mines and factories have shut down. Others, despite objections from some local farmers, have benefited from the construction of a gasoline pipeline from the Ohio River to Columbus and beyond to Colorado. As the price of oil and natural gas rose, the coal industry began to rebound, reopening some mines and returning some jobs. The most distinctive people here are the Amish, who drive their horses and buggies over covered bridges in Holmes, Tuscarawas and Wayne counties. They make up the largest concentration of Amish in the world. They run shops now as well as farms, get energy from solar power, and no longer eschew all farm machinery.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 18th Congressional District of Ohio covers much of this hill country, from Holmes and Tuscarawas counties in the north to Ross and Jackson counties in the south. Geographically, it is the largest district in the state, spanning five media markets, including two in West Virginia. It includes such cities as New Rumley, the birthplace of Gen. George Custer; Zanesville, the birthplace of writer Zane Grey and architect Cass Gilbert; and Chillicothe, the first capital of Ohio, on the Scioto River. Politically, much of this area is ancestrally Democratic, but Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush won 55% of the vote here in 2000 and 57% in 2004. Republican nominee John McCain beat Barack Obama here 53%-45% in 2008.