Will Ohio Decide The President in 2020?
“As Ohio goes, so goes the nation.”
That saying has rang true for the past 60 years, as Ohio voters have swung back and forth to favor the presidential candidate that has won the election all the way back to Lyndon B. Johnson. But some political analysts are questioning whether Ohio will play as important of a role in 2020.
A report from CBS News spreads the battleground this year across 13 states including Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. But that doesn’t mean Ohio’s importance should be downplayed this year, according to some experts.
“Ohio is absolutely in play this cycle in a big way,” stated Kayla Merchant, Political Consultant at Paradigm Creative. “We’ve seen some interesting shifts [in Ohio], specifically in the suburbs. What will be interesting is turnout and trending in areas that aren’t quite as much of an urban core as Cleveland, Columbus or Cincinnati.”
Elections projection site FiveThirtyEight lays out multiple scenarios for the election results and indicates that Trump needs Ohio to win, but Biden has many paths to victory without Ohio.
“I perhaps have a less strategic and more altruistic view of this in that I firmly believe every vote, every state is important,” said Merchant. “I enjoy FiveThirtyEight’s predictions and they put in a lot of great work into their modeling, but we have too much on the line both at the national level and down ballot to take anything for granted or to count a state out in terms of its importance.”
Merchant does agree with FiveThirtyEight’s assessment that the race in Ohio is going to be close. At publishing time, Trump was favored to win Ohio 51-49, but Biden has led in the state polls multiple times since June 1.
“If we learned anything from 2016, it should be that it’s not over until it’s over,” she added. “Again, we’ll really be looking to our suburbs and exurbs to see what happens. However, given the wildly imbalanced number of drop boxes for voters to drop their absentee ballots off during this pandemic, anything could happen.”
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose has come under fire for restricting the number of drop box locations for voters. Similarly, limited early voting in large counties like Franklin has plagued voters with hour-long waits almost every day since early voting began.
“I’ve never understood why a person (or entity or political party) wouldn’t want to make it easier for everyone to vote. Restricting the number of drop boxes for ballots during a pandemic is absolutely voter suppression,” said Merchant. “That’s how we wound up having people lined up on an exit ramp outside of the early vote center in Cleveland — waiting hours in line with cars flying by them — just to cast their ballot.”
Once all is said and done, Merchant says that she just hopes that every one who wants to vote is able to vote.
“This is surely the most important election of any of our lifetimes, and perhaps the most important in the history of our country thus far,” she stated.
For more info on voting in Ohio, please visit www.vote.org/ohio.
Editor’s Note: Columbus Underground prefers to publish civics-based news articles with more than one quoted source. Six local analysts were contacted for this story and only one was able to respond and contribute.