OHIO 18 Electoral Votes 
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Obama  |  Romney  ||  Visits
It is very frequently noted that no Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio, and that again held true in 2012.  Both the major campaigns plied the top battleground state with resources, and Ohioans received the full brunt of the ad campaign and numerous visits by candidates and surrogates. 

Pre-Election Maneuvering
Legal maneuvering began well in advance of the campaign.  On June 29, 2011 the Republican controlled General Assembly passed HB 194 which made significant revisions to election law, including reducing early in-person voting  from 35 days to 16 days and eliminating early voting on the three days leading up to Election Day (Nov. 3-5), except for members of the military.  Ohio voters gathered signatures to put the matter to a referendum, but the legislature intervened.  On July 17, 2012 Obama for America, the DNC and the Ohio Democratic Party filed a lawsuit seeking to restore those three early voting days for all voters (reactions, also see infographic).  On Aug. 15, 2012 Sec. of State Jon Husted issued a directive requiring uniform days for in-person absentee voting (+).  On Aug. 31, 2012 U.S. District Court Senior Judge Peter Economus ruled [PDF] in favor of the campaign, blocking the law.  Attorney General Mike DeWine appealed (+), but on Oct. 5, 2012 the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the earlier ruling.  On Oct. 9, 2012 Husted, terming the circuit court ruling "an unprecedented intrusion by the federal courts into how states run elections," announced he would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court (+); on Oct. 16, 2012 the Supreme Court declined to take up the matter and Husted issued a directive covering the three days (+).

Also on the legal front, Advancement Project challenged disqualification of provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct due to poll worker error (SEIU v. Husted [PDF], proposed order [PDF] filed June 22, 2012); U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley struck down that law in a late August ruling [PDF] (+).

New this cycle, the Secretary of State's office mailed out absentee ballot applications to 6.9 million Ohio voters; a first mailing went out on Aug. 31, 2012 (6,488,648) and a supplemental mailing in early Oct. 2012 (394,094). Completed absentee ballots returned by mail had to be postmarked by Nov. 5, 2012 (they were allowed 10 days to reach the election board), or delivered in person to the county board of elections by the close of the polls on Election Day. 

Provisional ballots had the potential to be a big issue.  If voter requested an absentee ballot by mail and then decided to vote in person on Election Day he or she was required to use a provisional ballot.  The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that the provisional ballots "could keep the presidential election in doubt until late November if the national outcome hinges on the state’s 18 electoral votes."  See: Barry M. Horstman. "Ohio's nightmare voting scenario," Cincinnati Enquirer, Oct. 25, 2012. >  Finally, a directive Husted issued on Nov. 2, 2012 changing the requirements for submitting provisional ballots on Election Day raised concerns, with one legislator stating it put "hundreds of thousands of provisional ballots in jeopardy (+).

Ground Game
As in other states, the Obama campaign focused on its ground game; it reported opening its 100th field office in the state in Sept. 2012 and by the end of the campaign had 131 offices (see Ohio Democratic Party "Some Amazing Voter Contact Metrics").  By comparison the Romney campaign showed about 37 offices as of the first week of October.

Air War
According to the Smart Media Group the Obama and Romney campaigns and their allies spent a total of $197 million on the ad war in Ohio, more money than in any other state.  The Wesleyan Media Project (>) reported that Ohio media markets accounted for six of the top 24 media markets by volume of presidential ads in the period from October 22-29 (Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Toledo, Dayton and Youngstown), and from April 11-October 29 the Cleveland media market had the third most presidential ad airings after Las Vegas, NV and Denver, CO.

Visits The Campaign in Ohio | By County
In the seven months from April 10 to November 6, Obama made 19 visits totaling 20 days to Ohio, while Romney made 22 visits totaling 28 days.  The number two men on the tickets were also very active; Biden made 9 visits totaling 15 days and Ryan made 17 visits totaling 23 days.  All told, the Obama-Biden principals made appearances in 35 counties and the Romney-Ryan principals in 38 counties.  Of note, Romney and Ryan did eight joint events, plus a couple of Election Day stops in Richmond Heights (Cleveland); by comparision there was only one joint Obama-Biden appearance.  Biden squeezed in an Election Day stop for the Democrats, also in Cleveland.

Sen. Rob Portman (R) was seen as one of the top two or three prospects in vice presidential speculation until Romney announced his selection of Rep. Paul Ryan (R).  Portman served as the stand-in for Obama during Romney's debate prep and became a key advisor to Romney.  Former Gov. Ted Strickland (D) served as a prominent Obama surrogate.

War on Coal
The Romney campaign made a major theme of what it termed an Obama administration "war on coal."  The campaign held events such as Romney's August 14 rally backed by coal miners outside the American Energy Corp.'s Century mine in Beallsville (Monroe County) and Ryan's October 20 rally in Belmont.  The campaign also ran ads on the theme ("Way of Life," "War on Coal" and "Bankrupt"); the Obama campaign responded ("Not One of Us." and "Mandatory").  According to the Ohio Coal Association (+), in 2010 18 Ohio counties produced 28.5 million short tons of coal, led by Belmont County at 13.2 short tons.  Interest groups also ran ads on the war on coal (1, 2).

Interest Groups Weigh In
Among the interest groups weighing in on the presidential and down-ticket races in Ohio were Americans for Prosperity on the conservative side and organized labor on the liberal/progressive side.  Americans for Prosperity reported "10 staff on the ground, 7 statewide offices and...over 112,000 activists statewide."  Activities included phone banking, at least 21 stops on the Obama’s Failing Agenda Bus Tour, an Oct. 6 rally in Columbus, an Oct. 7 reduced price gas event in Cincinnati, and in the closing week policy briefings featuring Dick Morris and former Sen. Fred Thompson (+).  The Ohio AFL-CIO reported that, "Including GOTV, the Workers’ Voice [the AFL-CIO affiliated super PAC] and Labor 2012 program knocked on 668,904 doors and made 953,977 phone calls."  1.8 million pieces of Workers' Voice and AFL-CIO direct mail were sent as well as over one million pieces of local mail.  Worksite activity and leafleting and tele-town halls were further elements of the labor effort (+).

Newspaper Endorsements (Sample)
Akron Beacon Journal (Oct. 20)   88,049 (86) +
The Chillicothe Gazette (Nov. 4) +
Mansfield News Journal (Oct. 25)
The Plain Dealer [Cleveland] (Oct. 20)   286,405 (19) +
The Toledo Blade (Oct. 28)    94,215 (82) +
The Vindicator [Youngstown] (Oct. 28) +
The Cincinnati Enquirer (Oct. 28)   144,165 (51) +
The Columbus Dispatch (Oct. 21)   136,023 (54) +
The Courier [Findlay] (Oct. 22) +
Herald-Star [Steubenville] (Oct. 17) +
Lima News (Oct. 28) +
The Marietta Times (Oct. 15) +
The Morning Journal [Lorain] (Nov. 4) +

Dayton Daily News (Oct. 31)    93,425 (84) +
The Repository [Canton] (Nov. 4) +
On Nov. 5 Secretary of State Husted reported that 1,195,103 voters had cast votes by mail, accounting for 87.1% of the 1,372,060 ballots that were sent out; in addition there were 592,243 ballots cast in-person (both figures include military and overseas. [PDF]

Turnout was lower than in 2008 across most of the state; all told 127,528 fewer votes were tallied in the presidential race.  The Republican ticket carried 71 counties to 17 for the Democrats.  In addition to Obama-Biden winning the state, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) won re-election.  Both parties lost one House seat and Republicans maintained their strong majorities in the state legislature.

Ohio's Five Largest Counties: 2004, 2008 and 2012 
The five largest counties accounted for 38.85% of the vote for president in 2012 compared to 38.78% in 2000 and 38.77% in 2004 and 38.66% in 2008.  Obama carried all five of these counties.  His showing in Cuyahoga County is particularly striking; Obama won almost 70% of the vote and his 256,581-vote plurality exceeded his statewide plurality by more than 90,000 votes.

Cuyahoga County (Cleveland)

.  2008
. 2012

Kerry/Edwards (D)
 (66.57%) . Obama/Biden (D)

Obama/Biden (D)
Bush/Cheney (R)
(32.89%) . McCain/Palin (R)

Romney/Ryan (R)
Others (2+w/ins) 3,674 (0.55%) . Others (6+w/ins)

Others (5+w/ins)

. Total


of statewide total
Kerry plurality:
226,903 (33.68%)

of statewide total
Obama plurality: 258,542

11.54% of statewide total
Obama plurality 256,581 (39.83%)

Franklin County (Columbus)

.  2008 .. ..

Kerry/Edwards (D)
 (54.35%) . Obama/Biden (D) 334,709

Obama/Biden (D) 346,336
Bush/Cheney (R)
(45.12%) . McCain/Palin (R) 218,486

Romney/Ryan (R) 215,987
Others (2+w/ins) 2,773 (0.53%) . Others (6+w/ins) 7,130

Others (5+w/ins) 8,660

. Total 560,325

Total 570,983

of statewide total
Kerry plurality:
 48,548 (9.23%)

of statewide total
Obama plurality:

10.23% of statewide total Obama plurality 130,349  (22.83%)

Hamilton County (Cincinnati)

.  2008 . .

Kerry/Edwards (D)
 (47.09%) . Obama/Biden (D) 225,213

Obama/Biden (D) 219,927
Bush/Cheney (R)
(52.50%) . McCain/Palin (R) 195,530

Romney/Ryan (R) 193,326
Others (2+w/ins) 1,730 (0.41%) . Others (6+w/ins) 4,343

Others (5+w/ins) 5,641

. Total 425,086

Total 418,894

of statewide total
Bush plurality:
  22,937 (5.41%) 

of statewide total
Obama plurality:

of statewide total
Obama plurality 26,601 (6.35%)

Montgomery County (Dayton)

.  2008
. .

Kerry/Edwards (D)
 (50.60%) . Obama/Biden (D)

Obama/Biden (D) 137,139
Bush/Cheney (R)
(48.97%) . McCain/Palin (R)

Romney/Ryan (R) 124,841
Others (2+w/ins) 1,216 (0.43%) . Others (6+w/ins)

Others (5+w/ins) 4,298

. Total

Total 266,278

of statewide total
Kerry plurality:

of statewide total
Obama plurality:

of statewide total
Obama plurality  12,298

Summit County (Akron)



Kerry/Edwards (D)
Obama/Biden (D) 160,858

Obama/Biden (D) 153,037
Bush/Cheney (R)
McCain/Palin (R)

Romney/Ryan (R) 111,000
Others (2+w/ins) 1,175 (0.43%)
Others (6+w/ins) 3,543

Others (5+w/ins) 3,674

Total 277,685

Total 267,711

of statewide total
Kerry plurality:
  38,029 (13.76%)

of statewide total
Obama plurality:

of statewide total
Obama plurality 42,037

Total votes cast in these 5 counties in 2012...  2,168,147.  Note that the totals are lower than 2008 in four of the five counties.