Why Romney failed in the Buckeye State
In Ohio, we awoke Wednesday morning to a state that has once again turned itself blue for president, blue for Senate, but kept the Statehouse Republican and the vast majority of the Congressional seats from Ohio in the GOP column. It sounds schizophrenic; but actually, it bolsters Ohio’s label as a swing state. We don’t just swing as a state — voters actually swing back and forth between Republican and Democratic as they cast their ballots. Party identification did not seem to matter in Tuesday’s election.
For example, in northeastern Ohio, Stark County (Canton) voted for Republican Mitt Romney with 49.23 percent of the vote to Democrat Barack Obama’s 48.87 percent, but reversed their numbers for U.S. Senate — Sherrod Brown, the Democrat, received 49.14 percent to Republican Josh Mandel’s 44.71 percent. The county went Republican for president, but Democratic for Senate. However, in 2008, Stark County supported Barack Obama with nearly 53 percent of the votes cast between Obama and John McCain.
On Tuesday evening, Ohio U.S. Sen. Rob Portman said that he was looking to Butler County — just north of Cincinnati — for a feeling of how the night would go for Mitt Romney. The final numbers from Butler County were very encouraging for Republicans, with Romney receiving 62.33 percent and Mandel earning 58.73 percent, but the county ended up not being reflective of the rest of the state.
Total turnout in 2008 was 5,773,777 voters. The unofficial totals for 2012 show only 5,364,321. In 2008, McCain received 2,677,820 votes (46.91 percent), but Romney only received 2,584,620 (48.18 percent). Romney’s campaign knew it had to turn out the vote in Ohio, and while the percentage is higher for the Republican candidate in 2012 versus 2008, the overall vote total means that some Republicans stayed home or did not vote for president.
Ohio can be divided into six geographical sections: central, northwest, southwest, southeast, northeast and west. Romney won the southwest (Cincinnati and surrounding counties) with 56.35 percent, but pundits will likely agree that this margin needed to be larger to balance out other sections of the state. In the southeast — coal country — Romney also won, but only by 52.47 percent, which was again not large enough to balance out Franklin, Cuyahoga and Hamilton counties where the three major cities in the state are located. Obama won the other four sections of the state, and by large enough margins to carry the entire state.
The CBS exit poll in Ohio show that Obama won 55 percent of the women voting in the state, who make up 51 percent of the electorate. By party identification, 39 percent said they are Democrats, 30 percent Republicans and 30 percent independents. Among independents, 56 percent supported Romney and 40 percent supported Obama. In the big cities, Obama won. In the rural areas and smaller cities, Romney won. On the economy — the top issue for Ohio voters — voters were evenly split.
Romney lost Ohio for two major reasons, in my opinion: the lack of a message that was attractive to women, and not turning out enough of the traditional “base,” which could also
include moderately Republican women who either stayed home or did not vote for Romney.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve reported on voting laws in the state of Ohio, and the problems that could arise from the loopholes in the elections processes. While it appears that poll workers and elections officials are following the law, it is indeed the law that seems to create conditions for voting mischief.
When people can register to vote in Ohio without having to prove residency in such a way that prohibits duplicative registration in another state, we have a system that allows for people to vote twice — once in each state. This is predominantly applicable to college students and people who are new to the state.
In addition, when people can register to vote in Ohio without proving citizenship, the door is left open for permanent residents — but non-citizens — to vote in the elections.
Furthermore, when there are reports of voting machine problems, absentee ballots not being received at the boards of election throughout the state, and other rumors, Ohioans may wonder whether the voting process is entirely secure.
The Republican Party has the ability to win in Ohio — they have proven that with the 2010 elections, in which all statewide offices were won by the GOP. In those races, the Republicans won on jobs and the economy. Social issues were not at the forefront as they were in this year’s presidential election, particularly with women’s issues.
Republican leadership must find a way to frame election reform so that it can be upheld if the Democrats should referendum it, and stay away from the issues that leave voters — especially women — either at home, not voting for president or voting for the Democrat. If the Republicans want to continue to carry Ohio in 2014 and in the 2016 presidential race, these are two items on their agenda that must become a priority.
Sara Marie Brenner is a member of the Powell, Ohio, City Council and a blogger and a freelance writer for Human Events.