Ohio: political barometer of the nation

Posted on August 14, 2009

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Ohio often finds itself at the center of national politics as it’s termed one of the crucial “swing states.” Folks in other parts might ask themselves, “What the hell is so special about Ohio?” There are a couple of reasons that Ohio serves as in important barometer for the rest of the nation.

The Buckeye State is a study in contrasts, and this mixture makes it a better representative sample than other states. Boasting densely populated urban centers, Ohio contains sprawling suburbs and vast agricultural and rural areas. What’s key is that all these areas are within close proximity to one another – you can be in downtown Columbus and then in the country in about an hour. This makes Ohio more than an “agricultural” state like Kansas or Iowa and more than a more urban state like New Jersey.

In addition, the state is ideologically mixed. Ohio becomes more Democratic as you go north and east, and more Republican as you head south and west. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but it is true that Ohio doesn’t have political dynasties as in other states since neither party is predominant over the other. Here, both parties feel they have a chance at victory, unlike some other states where it’s next to impossible for members of a certain party to win statewide office.

Despite the mixture of ideologies, Ohioans have a fundamentally Midwestern character: blue-collar, pragmatic and hard-working (for the most part). It’s one reason the economic slump has hit Ohio particularly hard, as many of the state’s manufacturing sector has dried up. And the mixture of urban and rural, liberal and conservative, makes Ohio politicans trend towards the center rather than towards one end of the spectrum.

There’s a reason why no Republican has won the Presidency without winning Ohio, and there’s a reason why political pundits look to Ohio to see how certain issues will fare among the rest of the country. The Buckeye State provides a cross-section of lifestyles and thought patterns that few other states provide. Does that make other states worse or better? Nope, but Ohio does provide a better snapshot than other locales. If Ohio is against it, you can bet it will be a tough sell for the rest of the nation as a whole. Ohio’s marketing slogan was once “The Heart of It All,” and it’s this Buckeye’s humble opinion that, due to its makeup, the mood and character of Ohio closely represents that of America.

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Posted in: Politics