Presidential Politics And Election Returns
Last Updated July 14, 2003
With 20 electoral votes and a tradition of close partisan competition, Ohio is a crucial state in presidential politics. It matched the national average in 1984 and 1988, came close to doing so in 1996 and was only 2% points off in 2000. No Republican has ever been elected president without carrying Ohio; no Democrat, in today's electoral vote arithmetic, can be sure of winning without it. In 2000 George W. Bush, despite holding narrow leads in polls, made Ohio a priority state from start to finish, while the Gore campaign, looking to opportunities elsewhere, pulled out much of its advertising in mid-October, only to put more money in at the end of the month. Ohio went for Bush by only a 50%-46% margin, and he made sure to visit the state half a dozen times in 2001 and 2002 even though it had no seriously contested statewide or House races. Of the large industrial states--Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois--Ohio has been consistently the most Republican for 50 years, with the single exception of 1976, when Jimmy Carter ran well in the Southern-accented counties below U.S. 40 and carried the state by 11,000 votes. In recent years this has been because Ohio's metropolitan areas have not generated as large a percentage of culturally liberal high-education voters. In 2000 Bush carried college graduates and those with post-graduate degrees; the latter went heavily for Gore in states like New York and California. There were still traces of New Deal economic voting behavior--those with incomes over $100,000 were 65%-32% for Bush while union members were 67%-30% for Gore. But there are more high-income people and fewer union members than a generation or two ago. Working women were 56%-40% for Gore, but women not working outside the household were 54%-42% for Bush: the feminist left is weaker here than in other big states.
In 1996 Ohio switched its presidential primary from May to March 19, and voted on the same day as Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. But even then, just four weeks after New Hampshire, the race was already over. In May 1999 the state legislature voted to move the date to March 7, and Ohio was again seriously contested. Bush and Gore, with serious organizational support, won overwhelming victories as they clinched their parties' nominations. In 2004 it is scheduled to vote on March 2, one of 13 states with 216 electoral votes voting that day; with 10 other states. California, Texas and New York may get more attention then, but Ohio may get more in the fall.
|2000 Presidential Vote|
|2000 Republican Primary|
|2000 Democratic Primary|
|1996 Presidential Vote|
For 1992 and 1996 presidential results in Ohio, please see the Almanac 2000 online.
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