the bistro off broadway

Cleveland Plain Dealer
Mitt Romney or Barack Obama? Here's how to tell who's winning Ohio on election night
By Stephen Koff, Plain Dealer Washington Bureau Chief
November 04, 2012 

WASHINGTON — When political strategists talk about Ohio’s Republican comfort zone, they often point to Butler and Warren, neighboring conservative counties just north of Cincinnati. 

President Barack Obama will lose there. You can bank on it. 

So why on earth will Greg Schultz, Obama’s Ohio campaign director, keep an eye on these southwestern Ohio counties once the polls close Tuesday? 

He’ll do so because the size of the losses there can be as telling as the margins of victory in Cleveland. Bear that in mind as you follow the election returns Tuesday night. 

Whichever candidate — Obama, the Democrat, or Republican challenger Mitt Romney — amasses the most votes in Ohio can lay claim to all of the state’s 18 electoral votes, and those electoral votes are considered crucial for winning the White House. But before Ohio’s winner is known, campaign aides, strategists and political junkies will discern which way Ohio is going by watching key county margins — even in counties where cultural and political values practically preordain the winners. 

"Like Warren and Butler," Schultz says. "We’re not going to win" those counties. "We just have to make sure we don’t lose the election there." 

This is not as obtuse as it may sound. 

Consider: In 2008, Obama lost to John McCain in Warren County. McCain got 67.5 percent of the vote, to Obama’s 31.4 percent, a 36-point difference. Obama lost Butler County by 22.6 percentage points. 

But he won the state and became president anyway. 

How? By winning in Ohio’s populous urban counties, including the one where Cincinnati is the seat, Hamilton County. For a Democratic presidential candidate, a win in Hamilton County was momentous. It had not happened since 1964. It happened in 2008, thanks in large part to Obama’s aggressive get-out-the-vote campaign and shifting urban-suburban demographics. 

Like Cleveland, Cincinnati and other urban areas can provide a deep concentration of Democratic, black and young voters, while surrounding counties gain affluent and conservative-leaning populations. The Columbus area alone is a mecca of college students, an important Obama constituency… 

Read the rest of the article at the Cleveland Plain Dealer

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