Barack Obama’s re-election seems assured because of one decision and one state. No Republican candidate has won the presidency in modern times without winning Ohio. Not one. And the key to Republican victories in America in the last 30 years has been winning the white male vote, the “Reagan voters” who tend to be conservative, religious, blue-collar workers and small business owners.
But in Ohio, a very large part of the blue collar labor force and small businesses depend on the automobile industry, either as assemblers, parts suppliers, or businesses serving auto workers. At the DNC, former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland said:
“The auto industry supports one of every eight jobs in Ohio, and it’s alive and growing in America again,” Late last year, Chrysler announced they were hiring eleven hundred new autoworkers in Toledo. Just last month, GM announced a plan to invest 200 million dollars in Lordstown, keeping five thousand jobs in Ohio and building the next generation of the Chevy Cruze — a car we are proud to say is made entirely in Ohio.”
Yet both the current Republican governor, John Kasich, and Romney, are on record as having opposed federal support for the auto industry during the 1008 crisis. President Obama can claim he was brave and farsighted in supporting the auto industry, and saved the job base in Ohio. The Republicans can only say “oops — never mind.”
Minorities and public workers will vote Democratic in Ohio; farmers and religious conservatives who are not connected to the auto industry will vote Republican. The difference will be the one-in-eight in Ohio whose jobs were saved by Obama’s action to support the US auto industries in their time of need. They seem almost certain to deliver Ohio to Obama, and with it, a second term in the White House.