In 2012, Ohio will be the most important battleground state in the presidential election. As the battleground of battlegrounds, Ohio could prove the deciding factor just as it did in favor of George W. Bush in both 2000 and 2004. There is also an important senate battle, as Republicans aim to re-take control of the US Senate in their efforts to stop Obamacare from being fully implemented.
Both President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have dedicated more resources to winning Ohio than any other state. US elections are not won on a national popular vote, but instead by winning the popular vote in multiple states and adding up the earned electoral votes from each state. With many states already decided or leaning toward one candidate or another, Ohio has topped the list in both ad spending and campaign visits. While other battleground states like Virginia and Florida are also important - and have received considerable amounts of ad spending and campaign visits - those states are slightly more advantageous for Romney given their historical Republican tilts.
US Senate Battle
Democrat Sherrod Brown won election to the US Senate during the 2006 Democratic sweep year, winning 56% of the vote against incumbent Republican Mike DeWine. Josh Mandel is the 35-year old State Treasurer of Ohio who won statewide office by a healthy 14-point margin during the 2010 tea party sweeps across the country. Mandel is a former US Marine Corps reservist, city councilman, and Ohio state legislator. He served two tours in Iraq, his second while also as an elected public official. Both Brown and Mandel have raised around $8 million for the campaign, and polls have shown a tight race, but almost always have given Brown a slight edge. The good news for Mandel is he remains close, and Brown has rarely crept above the 50% support mark. Mandel is a sure vote for the repeal of Obamacare.
Recent Electoral Trends
Ohio might be the purest swing state, having voted for the eventual presidential winner in every election since the 1960's. President Obama won by 4.5 points in 2008, while Bush won by 2 points in 2004, and 3 points in 2000. In 1996, Bill Clinton only received 47% of the vote in Ohio, but it was enough due to a split in the conservative vote between Ross Perot and Bob Dole.
The 2010 mid-term elections was a huge year for Republicans, and they took clear advantage of the tea party momentum in nearly every contest in the state. In the US Congress, Republicans ousted 5 Democratic incumbents, and now hold 13 of the 18 congressional seats. In addition to Josh Mandel winning statewide office, Rob Portman won the state's other US Senate seat 57-39% and John Kasich unseated Governor Ted Strickland 49-47%. Republicans also won every other state-wide office, including Attorney General, Secretary of State, and State Auditor.
One of the other unique features of Ohio is their extended early voting procedures. Voters are able to cast ballots either in person or via mail for over a month before the general election date of November 6, 2012. Other states, such as Michigan, have no early voting (except for absentee voting in limited circumstances) making the strategy for each state completely different. The extended early voting period means campaigns have that much more time to collect votes, drive voters to polling locations, and otherwise attempt to build healthy leads. The presidential election could come down to Ohio, and it will likely come down to which side is better organized and able to get voters to cast ballots during the month of October.