See 2012 Battleground States for brief analyses of a dozen key states in the 2012 elections, and predictions as to who could win those states.
How Ohio Votes: Red State or Blue State?
Ohio is the quintessential political blend of Republican red and Democratic blue voters, as illustrated by the fact that of the last six presidential elections, Ohioans voted for three Democratic candidates (Obama in 2008, Clinton in 1992, 1998) and three Republican candidates (Bush I in 1988, Bush II in 2000, 2004).
Democrats are optimistic that Ohio will again lean Democratic in the 2012 presidential race, mainly because labor unions have been strongly supportive of Obama administration labor initiatives.
More than 783,000 Ohio residents, 15.5% of all workers in the state, are members of labor unions, the 6th highest state population of union workers. Ohio trails only California, New York, Illinois Pennsylvania and Michigan, all reliably Democratic states, in labor union members.
In November 2011, Ohio voters soundly defeated Republican Gov. John Kasich's harsh anti-union measures that "bars public sector strikes, curtails bargaining rights for 360,000 public employees and scraps binding arbitration of management-labor disputes," per Politico.com.
In the last four presidential elections, Ohio voted as follows:
- 2008 - 52% for Democrat Obama, 47% for Republican McCain
- 2004 - 51% for Republican Bush, 49% for Democrat Kerry
- 2000 - 50% for Republican Bush, 47% for Democrat Gore
- 1996 - 47% for Democrat Clinton, 41% for Republican Dole, 12% for Other
The Buckeye State's 18-member U.S. House of Representatives delegation is comprised of 13 Republicans, 5 Democrats.
Summary of Top Issues in Ohio
The economy and declining middle-class finances are top political issues for Ohio, which is experiencing a high home foreclosure rate, high poverty rate, and an unemployment rate roughly equal to the soaring national average.
Ohio's vast population of unionized manufacturing industry workers are incensed by globalization trends toward free trade agreements that outsource U.S. jobs to other countries with dirt-cheap labor costs.
Since 14.1% of Ohio residents are senior citizens, Republican proposals to cut Social Security and drastically curtail Medicare are also pressing 2012 political issues in the Buckeye State.
Ohio Economic Facts and Voter Demographics
Unemployment Rate as of June 2011 - 8.8%, which ranked 20th among all states and was slightly below the national average.
Foreclosure Rates as of June 2011 - Ohio is experiencing a high foreclosure rate of 1 in every 587 homes, which ranks 11th among all states.
State Residents Living Below Poverty-Level Income - 13.4% of Ohio residents live below the poverty level, which ranks 19th among all states.
Labor Union Membership - 783,000 Ohioans, 15.5% of workers in the state, are members of labor unions, the 6th highest state population of union workers, behind only California, New York, Illinois Pennsylvania and Michigan... all which historically are Democratic blue states.
Senior Citizen Population - A high percentage of Ohio residents, 14.1 %, are over 65 years old, ranking 15th among all states in senior citizens.
Women as a Percentage of Ohio's Population - 51.2% of all Ohioans are women, a high percentage that ranks 14th among all states.
African-American Population - 12% of Ohioans are of African-American heritage, a fairly high percentage that ranks 17th among all states.
Hispanic Population - Only 3.1% of Ohio residents are of Hispanic heritage, one of the nation's lowest state Hispanic population percentages.