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Last Updated: Monday, 25 October, 2004, 13:46 GMT 14:46 UK
State profile: Ohio
Ohio is a key battleground state in this election. Won narrowly by George W Bush in 2000, it has received lavish attention from the president, and Republicans boast an overwhelming majority of elected officials.

The attention given to Ohio is not simply to gain its 21 electoral college votes. Ohio is important because it is seen as the epitome of modern America and the battleground of the Midwest.

Its economy has mirrored national trends exactly. The 1990s brought falling unemployment, rising household incomes and growth in the service and high-tech sectors. It also has a typical urban-rural balance and an average ethnic mix.

KEY FACTS
Population: 11,353,140 (ranked 7 among states)
Governor: Bob Taft (R)
Electoral college votes: 20

Still, it has been hit hard recently by manufacturing unemployment. The sector has lost more than 10% of its jobs since 2001.

Culturally, Ohio has a large sample of Americans within its borders, largely because of the state's settlement by New Englanders to the north and Virginians to the south.

2003 CONGRESS
House of Representatives:
6 Democrat, 12 Republican
Senate: 2 Republican

There is still a sizeable difference, both politically and culturally, between the state's southern counties and its northern cities. This has made for an unpredictable balance.

It was in the northern cities of Toledo and Cleveland that the 1930s Depression threatened to boil over into full-scale class warfare.

But Ohio is also where William McKinley, who became president in 1896, built an alliance with labour that began 34 years of Republican national majorities.

VOTING RECORD
2000: Bush 50%, Gore 46%
1996: Clinton 47%, Dole 41%, Perot 11%
1992: Clinton 40%, Bush 38%, Perot 21%
Since then political control has moved back and forth between the two main parties. Jimmy Carter had a crucial win here in 1976 and throughout the 1970s and 1980s Ohio leaned Democrat. The 1990s saw a reversal in the trend.

Although Bill Clinton won Ohio twice, it was with very small margins and was probably helped by a strong showing by Ross Perot. In other elections Republicans have made significant advances.

Significantly, this new political alignment appears to be springing from the same north-eastern areas that in the 1930s were a hotbed of New Deal radicalism. New industries have replaced the old and seem to have uprooted the old Democrat values. This will be an election result to watch.



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