Honestly, I expected a narrow Clinton win here in Ohio (after all, if there is one thing we’re good at, it’s fucking things up for the rest of the country), but I was a little surprised by the margin. As I pointed out last night, exit polling wasn’t exactly flattering to Clinton voters, as it implies that they are voting based on the gender and race of the candidates, and not on the merits. (To be fair, black voters went overwhelmingly for Obama, and I certainly suspect that a good portion of that is race politics – but that doesn’t change the fact that 56% of all voters who said race mattered voted for Clinton.)

And now that we have actual results, we can see that down at the extreme southern end of the state, in counties such as Scioto, Lawrence, Jackson, Gallia, and Scioto, Clinton earned 80% of the vote. Thru much of Appalachian Ohio she won 70% of the vote. In most of the rest of rural Ohio she won 55-60% of the vote. So why such a large margin in Appalachian Ohio? We’ve all seen that religious based attacks seem to work down there. Norah O’Donnell and Adam Verdugo have even more damning numbers. And Ohio is one of the few states where white males have gone for Clinton rather than Obama.

I went back and took a look at the 2006 Gubernatorial election results, and while there’s a complicating factor in that Strickland is from Appalachian Ohio (and it was a general, not a primary), the white candidate again won by a margin significantly higher along the Ohio River than in the rest of rural Ohio.

It pains me to say it, and I’m open to alternative suggestions, but it seems pretty plain to me that racism is alive and well in Appalachian Ohio, and it contributed to Clinton’s margin of victory.

Wedge politics FTW!

  • BTW, if MSNBC’s numbers are correct (1 in 5 Democratic voters said race was a factor, and 8 in 10 of those voters went for Clinton), that’s a 12 point swing for Clinton.

    She won by 10 points.

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  • I like that… Blame the hillbilly’s for being racist.

  • Look, Gordon, if 20% of primary voters said race was a factor, and 80% of those voters chose not to vote for the black guy, what else do you want me to call it?

    Amongst voters who said race didn’t matter, the vote split nearly evenly. If MSNBC’s numbers are correct, nearly 30% of Clinton’s support came from the racist vote.

    I wish it weren’t so, but it sure as hell appears as if racism isn’t dead in Ohio yet.

  • #2: you have evidence to indicate otherwise?

  • How many voters were Black and said race was a factor for voting on Obama.

    But I guess that couldn’t be racist now could it.

  • Modern Esquire

    Wow, not even twelve hours later and the “Candidate of Hope”(TM) is already playing the race card.

    You’re right it couldn’t possible be due to the fact that Governor Strickland and the Clinton campaign spent most of last week campaign in that area of Ohio while the Obama campaign all but ignored it.

    It couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that the Obama campaign had one campaign office in the region (in Athens County) while the Clinton campaign was well integrated into the county parties there.

    Nope, it HAD to be racism. It couldn’t possible be because one candidate campaigned heavily there with a popular Governor who used to represent the region in Congress while the other completely wrote it off from the get-go.

  • #5: Gordo, voting FOR someone because they represent you (based on race or not) is very different from voting against. You are not paying attention to the numbers. It’s 80/20 race against.

    #6: No. I don’t know how else to read 80% voting AGAINST someone due to race. No clue. Or maybe they voted FOR Hillary because she is white. Either way, it’s pretty damning.

    The good news? Only 20% said race was a factor. I’d love to see that number be much lower though.

  • First, Gordo… the “black-pro-black” vote is already accounted for in the exit polls. Those numbers are for all voters, not just white voters.

    Actually, Eric, that’s the biggest issue – that 1 in 5 voters said race was an issue for them. If that was 1%, I wouldn’t care because it wouldn’t have any real impact on the results of elections.

    ModernEsquire, yeah – Clinton does better in rural areas than Obama. The NAFTA mess probably has something to do with that. Appalachian Ohio is also poorer than the rest of Ohio, and that has an effect as well. But the overwhelming difference in vote percentages between most of rural Ohio and Appalachian Ohio (where there is a long and ongoing history or racism) are stark.

    No matter how much complaining and hand-waving goes on about Obama supporters “playing the race card”, you can’t ignore the fact that 20% of voters in the Democratic primary said that the race of the candidate mattered, and that perhaps up to 80% of those voters voted for Clinton.

    I’m not ready to say that Clinton is knowingly chasing the racist vote… yet. I did see something in my blog feed today that is very upsetting along those lines. Regardless, I’m sick and tired of Clinton pulling plays out of the Republican electioneering playbook.

  • #8: Spot on. I did NOT mean to indicate 20% is acceptable to me. My pessimism in the Ohio electorate as it relates to race relations probably showed through there.

  • Modern Esquire



    The Appalachian region is where Ted Strickland is from. That means that Clinton had an instant organization advantage in that she was tuned into every county party organization in the region.

    Clinton also spent much of last week campaign in Appalachia. Obama’s campaign did not and did not really organize there much because they figured given that the area was Strickland country, they couldn’t compete.

    Ted Strickland’s support and history with the region is why Clinton did better in Appalachia than in other rural area (where she still won handily), not racism.

  • “Gordo, voting FOR someone because they represent you (based on race or not)”

    So I’m still confused, it’s OK for a black in Cuyahoga county to vote for a black guy because he “represents” you but for an Appalachian to vote for a white person who may be more sensitive the the plight of Appalachian residents is blatantly racist?

    The fact is, they are registered democrats, so you’re probably right.

  • ME – we still don’t have an explanation for the fact that 20% of voters in the Democratic primary said that race was an important factor, and that allegedly 80% of those people voted for Clinton. Even if I’m wrong in suspecting that most of that racist vote came from Appalachian Ohio, rather than spread evenly across the state.

    That’s upsetting to me. Frankly, it ought to be upsetting to you, too. Unless you’re cool with racism when it benefits someone you support.

    It’s plainly obvious that Obama has problems generating support in poor rural areas that doesn’t involve race as a factor. But that doesn’t make the exit polls indicating the presence of racism disappear.

    Identity politics suck. I’m not terribly encouraged by the fact that so many women appear (again, by the exit polls) to have voted for Clinton just because she’s a woman, and I’m not terribly encouraged with African-Americans who voted for Obama because he’s black. Given that both of those groups are and have been discriminated against, I can understand it, but ideally we’d be completely past it. Now, black people voting for Obama because they believe his policies better address their concerns, and ditto for women and Clinton – no issue with that. That’s issue based voting, not identity voting.

    Thankfully, “only” 17% of voters said that the gender of the candidate was important. That’s still a lot higher than it should be, if we are interested in electing the best qualified person regardless of gender.

  • Modern Esquire

    Look, Brian, I think you’d be hard pressed to say that the 90% African-American vote for Obama wasn’t based on race.

    I’m not denying that racism may have played some role in how people vote, and that’s unfortunate. But your projecting it entirely on white Appalachian voters for no other reason that they voted for Clinton in larger margins than elsewhere. There is a non-racial explanation for that which I have provided and you have completely ignored in your responses.

    Is it any better when voters in Cleveland voted for Obama because he is black than white voters for Clinton because she’s white?

    Only just now are you recognizing it. I think it was ignorant for you to just speculate that Obama performed horribly in SEO because of racism when the reality is that he didn’t really campaign there at all and the Clinton campaign practically camped out with Ted Strickland there last week.

    As someone who grew up in Scioto County, you can imagine my outrage at the suggestion that the people I grew up with are a bunch of racist, ignorant hillbillies and that’s why Clinton did so well there, especially when your candidate didn’t see fit to really campaign in that region while his opponent did.

  • “Identity politics suck”? Are you kidding me? That’s the democratic party.

    Workers v. Management; Blacks v White; Gays v. Straight; Women v. Men; the whole party is made up of perceived victims looking for something from their oppressors and now you’re surprised when people vote cosistent with that.

    The democratic party has been building up these victim/victimizer narratives for two generations but now you’re upset because it’s happening “within the family”.


  • [If this is a disjointed comment, I apologize – I had an emergency involving a dog, a glass, some water, and an area rug that pulled me away, and it’s hard to edit in this little box.]

    There is a non-racial explanation for that which I have provided and you have completely ignored in your responses.

    Not so – in comment 13 I admitted that the racist vote might well be evenly distributed across the state. I certainly won’t (and can’t!) deny that there are racists everywhere. I see plenty of it in my neck of the woods.

    But I also can’t ignore the fact that there are more racists in southern Ohio than in the rest of the state. Neo-Nazi organizations are more active there. Does that translate to more racist voters in a Democratic primary than in, say, Licking County? I don’t know, but I would suspect so.

    It certainly wasn’t my intent to defame Appalachian voters in general. I know they face their own discriminatory issues. I have no doubt that most Appalachian voters are not racist.

    As for black voters voting for Obama… if they are doing it because he’s black, I’m not too happy about that. If it’s because they feel he’s addressing the needs of their communities better in his policy positions, then I’ve got no issue with that. (Ditto for women and Clinton.) Unfortunately, I don’t really have data that shows what percentage of black voters are voting for Obama because of his race – I just have overall data, which indicates that Clinton is gaining more from racism and/or identity politics than Obama is. Even if identity politics is a bigger problem in the black community than racism is in the white community, there are so many more white voters that the racism ends up having a bigger impact.

    I will concede that Strickland’s support could have had a big impact in the vote percentage differences. I might be projecting the fact that someone’s local organization doesn’t really sway my voting choices much, especially in voting for national offices on to others.

    I would like to see county crosstabs for exit polls. I suspect it would confirm my guess, but you are correct – I do not have enough data to say for sure that the “racist vote” was more concentrated in one place or another, only that it had a major impact at the state-wide level.

    I most certainly am not intending to imply that your support, or Strickland’s, or any other individual’s support of Clinton is racially motivated. If that is what you took away from my post, I apologize without reservation for my poor writing skills.

  • karen

    Scary. I’m pretty surprised that Ohio went for Hillary, Champion of NAFTA, who sat on the Board of Walmart. Bill owed a lot of political favors to Walmart and don’t you just know he sacrificed your jobs as a payback via the passing of NAFTA. You people appear to be pretty stupid to the rest of America ’cause you bought Hillary’s lies hook, line and sinker, but at least you got screwed by a white woman.

  • JoeR

    The exit poll numbers on race seriously demoralized me. This was something I expected to happen a year ago but after Obama won Iowa a very demographically white state, then South Carolina and Louisiana in the deep south, I thought maybe finally we were moving on from the days of judging based on race.

    It saddens me that the numbers show Ohio to be more racist then states in the deep south.

  • Modern Esquire

    Actually, neo-Nazi and white supremist groups are predominately organized in SWO, particular the Hamilton (Butler County) area, and historically have been so, not in the Appalachian areas of SEO.

    You’re officially talking out of both sides of your mouth, now:
    “I also can’t ignore the fact that there are more racists in southern Ohio than in the rest of the state.”

    “I have no doubt that most Appalachian voters are not racist.”

    Your entire premise of this post has been that racism was a factor in why Clinton did so much better in SEO than Obama. You can’t make that claim without also suggesting that most Appalachian voters are racists.

    People didn’t vote for Clinton because of her local organization as much as it helped turned out the vote.

    You’ve hemmed and hawed so much in the comments now, I’m not sure what exactly you’re claiming anymore.

    Are you saying that racism, and not Strickland’s support and the fact that the Clinton campaign invested a lot of the time in a region that Obama largely ignored, was the real reason Clinton did so well in SEO or not?

  • “Identity politics suck…..”

    Are you kidding me?

    Democratic politics are nothing but “identity politics”. The whole purpose of being a democrat is to align yourself with some “victim” group identity. The whole party apparatus is about taking from the victimizer to give to the victim….

    Black v. White
    Worker v. Management
    Women v. Men
    Gay v. Straight
    Nature v. Humans

    And now you are surprised that some voters in Appalachia might decide that they might get more out of The Billary than Obamamania and actully vote in a manner consistent with that.


    It was so easy when your victimizers were so neatly republican. the democratic party has spent the better part of two generations writing that narrative. Now your seeing competing victims groups fighting over the same pie and you’re surprised?

  • You’re officially talking out of both sides of your mouth, now:
    “I also can’t ignore the fact that there are more racists in southern Ohio than in the rest of the state.”

    “I have no doubt that most Appalachian voters are not racist.”

    These are not contradictory statements. There are more African-Americans in Cuyahoga County than in Licking County, but that doesn’t mean most citizens of Cuyahoga County are African-American.

    Are you saying that racism, and not Strickland’s support and the fact that the Clinton campaign invested a lot of the time in a region that Obama largely ignored, was the real reason Clinton did so well in SEO or not?

    I’m saying I believe it was a factor. We know it was a factor at a statewide level – I think it may have been more of a factor in southern Ohio than other parts of Ohio, but I don’t have enough data to say for certain.

    That doesn’t mean it’s the only factor, and you’ve presented an excellent argument that the racism might have been less concentrated (ie, spread more evenly across the entire state) by pointing out Strickland’s organizational support on-the-ground in southern Ohio; something I discounted in my original post because I was projecting my biases about the value of said local organization. IOW, I never really considered it because it doesn’t really influence my voting patterns in elections for national office.

  • John

    Interesting was the number of voters who prefaced their statements with ‘I’m not prejudiced or anything…” Race was a factor in Ohio. It will also be in Pennsylvania. The former First Lady and her husband will continue to play race like the card so many wrongly think it is.

  • Racism is ignorance and it is therefore not surprising to find it in rural, low income areas. However, a distinction should be made between voting out of pride for a person whose background you believe has been underrepresented (blacks for Obama, women for Clinton) and race or gender based voting motivated by animus toward another race.

    This has shown up this year among Latinos in California and Texas and among white males in southern or low income demographics and is very disturbing.

    What a blessing that that a man like Obama can seemingly break through this barrier based on the vast majority of sensible voters.

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