The big news in Ohio polling a month ago was the results from Quinnipiac University showing Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump had lengthened his lead over his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, from two to five points.
Ohio, the long-time bellwether state that for a century or more has pushed many candidates over the 270 Electoral College threshold needed to be elected president, appeared to be out of reach for Hillary Clinton at the time. Her campaign, and national pundits, were rejiggering which states she needed to win to compensate for losing bellwether Ohio.
Between Monday’s Q-Poll numbers in September that elated Trump Train riders, and new numbers two days later, the Buckeye State appeared to be an outlier in a series of states, most especially Pennsylvania, that were breaking for Clinton.
In an update newsletter from FiveThirtyEight founder and baseball statistics calculator Nate Silver, it seems like the once must-win Ohio may have fallen into has-been state status once it seemed Donald Trump can win it yet still lose the presidency. If that happens, and Mr. Silver gives odds of 76 percent that it will, Trump will go down in history as the next Richard Nixon who won Ohio in 1960 but didn’t become president.
That’s quite a feat, even for someone like Donald Trump who defied all odds this election season to win the Republican nomination by clobbering 16 other challengers, including Ohio’s own petulant, hard-right, lame duck governor, John Kasich, whose Teflon governorship has not been hurt by his continued opposition to Trump’s candidacy.
But the bleakness from the Q-Poll got lightened up following a Monmouth University poll showing Hillary Clinton with a 2 percentage point lead in Ohio over the Donald, a far better figure than Q-Polling showed two months ago when her lead was twice as great. After Silver’s sojourn through a detailed comparison of Ohio with Pennsylvania in five categories—race, religion, party identification, education and region—he gives a cup full of kindness to Camp Clinton and Democrats.
“We have Clinton ‘winning’ Ohio by just 0.3 points, less than Obama’s relatively solid, 3-point margin in 2012.” he writes of how close the final outcome in the Buckeye State could be.
That was then, this is now. Hillary Clinton took some solace in the Monmouth Ohio poll numbers weeks ago, but she got more than a healthy helping of sunshine from a new Baldwin Wallace poll of Ohio showing her ahead of Trump by nine points. What a difference a month makes after Donald Trump unshackled himself only to fall further, as one poll after another shows the New York real estate man free-falling with less than a month to go until Election Day in early November.
Should Ohio drift into has-been state status, other states like North Carolina and Florida will be seen going forward as important wins for Democrats in general and Mrs. Clinton in particular this year. If the predictions of some that long-time red-state Texas will turn blue in the future, as Hispanics out number and out vote Anglos, ball game over for Republican hopes of winning national races. Should this reversal of fortune for Democrats happens, and demographics and population movement predict it will, Republicans may be doomed to losing one popular vote after another.
Not all polls show Clinton pulling away from Trump in Ohio, which means get out the vote operations take on out sized importance. Democrats and Hillary Clinton have out distanced Republicans and Trump by multiples, from grass root organizing field offices to campaign spending. That investment in ground game mechanics is now in play as today, October 12, marks the first day of early voting in the Buckeye State.
Some facts and figures on why once mighty Ohio may not have the muscle in the future that it had in the past:
- Demographics in Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado and New Mexico have changed more rapidly than in Ohio. According to the Census Bureau, 25.6 percent of Ohio residents last year had a college degree compared with 29 percent for the country as a whole.
- Ohio’s Hispanic population is just 3.6 percent compared with the national figure of 17.6, and the state’s median household income of $48,849 is almost $5,000 shy of the national average, $53,482 a year.
- In addition, Ohio’s image as a collection of blue-collar workers is outdated. In 1995, the state’s two largest employers were General Motors and Ford, while today they are the Cleveland Clinic and Wal-Mart. Nine of the state’s 25 largest employers are in health care.