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.

About jackgoldstone

Hazel Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University
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3 Responses to O-Hi-O

  1. Debra says:

    Hi, Jack. Truly don’t intend to be a thorn in your side – but just wondering a bit about the validity of Strickland’s numbers. Although I can’t verify the ‘new’ jobs were in fact new and contributing to growth or merely a call back of laid off workers – but since Ohio – and Michigan – were primarily the first – and hardest hit – states by the, er, recession – their workers were also the first to run out of benefits as such are no longer being counted – I seem to recall that happened about a year ago. Other, folks, such as spouse, left the state for employment elsewhere – and I think those numbers are pretty significant – add to that the number of ‘trailing spouses’, such as myself, who were not eligible for unemployment in Ohio since we voluntarily left our positions.

    Your comments about Ohio being the bell-weather state relative to elections rings very true – especially Stark County, home of the Timken Co. and Diebold (and once upon a time, the Hoover Company and Republic Steel). Election time was always very interesting.

    Really enjoying your blog – thanks for all your hard work.

  2. slacker57 says:

    Sir, are you concerned that your post on this trend might discourage supporters of the President from getting involved with the Obama campiagn; which could enable the Romney campaign to make a comeback?

    • No — I think Obama supporters should be encouraged and go out and seek a big victory, the better to bring in more Democratic Congressmen on Obama’s coattails. Besides, state and national polls will deliver the same message: Obama is up vs. Romney since the conventions.

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