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banner Friday, 7 January, 2000, 17:49 GMT
Ohio

It is a cliché to say that no Republican can win the presidency without winning Ohio, but this is a crucial state and will top the Democrat target list too.

Key facts
Population: 11,172,782 (ranked 7 among states)
Governor: Bob Taft (R)
Electoral College votes: 21
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 mid-west.

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.

1998 Congress
House of Representatives: 8 Democrats, 11 Republicans
Senate: 2 Republicans
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. 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 a 34 years of Republican national majorities.

Voting record
1996: Clinton 47%, Dole 41%, Perot 11%
1992: Clinton 40%, Bush 38%, Perot 21%
1988: Bush 55%, Dukakis 44%
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. They hold the post of governor, have the majority House and Senate delegations and have large margins in the state legislature.

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 up-rooted the old Democrat values. This will be an election result to watch.

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Links to more States stories are at the foot of the page.


Links to more States stories