Ohio was called early on Tuesday night! Most of us assumed we'd be waiting until midnight to figure out just how many ballots the state GOP had stolen. But the race turned out to be less close than some polls predicted - 4 points. A convincing and triumphant performance, and a relief to those of us who have felt like pariahs for the last four years, being personally blamed for the 2004 results.
That all said, a few other things to notice: Buckeyes bucked the national trend and turned out in lower numbers than they did last time. Strange because the weather was stunningly beautiful all across the state and in 2004 it was 48* and rainy all day.
In a post here some weeks ago I suggested that the turn-out key might be not how many Obama voters came out but how many Republicans stayed home. That seems to have been the case. Obama got about as many votes as Kerry did -roughly 2.5 million though this time that amount to 51% of the total. What that also means that McShame's 2.5 million was nearly 350,000 votes less than Bush got.
Obama clearly did well in the urban areas of Columbus, Toledo and Cleveland. Most stunning, he took Hamilton County in the southwest corner of the state. Hamilton includes Cincinnati, but is otherwise deeply conservative. Bush won the county with 52.5%; Obama won it with 52.1%. That may be the most dramatic percentage switch of any county. Likewise, Obama nibbled away at the margins in some rural areas as well. These counties are filled with Pavlov's Republicans - Heinrich Himmler could run as a Republican in these area and be guaranteed about 55%.
Yet, even in this I suspect that Obama ate into these margins largely because Republicans stayed home. Here in Greene County Bush won with 61%; McShame with 58%. That's three points. But Bush got about 45,000 votes here; McShame got 39,000. Kerry got 29,000; Obama 27,000. I haven't looked at too many other counties yet, but it wouldn't surprise me if this pattern repeated itself in several other places. The punch line, I think, is that we have a rare instance when a lower voter turn-out helped the Democrat.
I bring all this up because I think it raises an interesting question about campaign organization. There is no question that Obama built an amazing machine even in these parts of the state. I was a part of it and it was truly inspiring. We also know that Kerry built very little and relied on a slap-dash effort by Move-On. Yet, at least in Greene County Kerry got more votes. I'm not sure what to conclude from this except perhaps to say that Ohio may still be an essentially Republican state, despite the 2006 elections and the triumph of Tuesday night. They just didn't want to vote for McShame.
In other news, the state flipped 2 House seats, which is a major accomplishment given the near-perfect gerrymandering engineered by the GOP in the last round. In a previous post I suggested people watch the OH-7 where I thought Sharen Neuhardt had a chance to win a seat vacated by a long-time Republican incumbent. David Hobson was sent to Washington for 18 years and made absolutely no impression there at all. Neuhardt lost - big - to a Steve Austria who had been term-limited out of the State Senate. He was described by a local paper as never having had an idea that didn't come straight from the GOP headquarters. He is now Congressman Austria. Ah well.
So perhaps the most interesting news of the election here is that the Democrats took control, just barely, of the State House. The districts get re-drawn in 2 years with a Democratic governor and a Democratic House. It's gerrymandering time!!