James Stotter

Lost in the presidential hullabaloo, which is discussed later in this column, are some highlights of Ohio’s November 2012 election:

Joe the Plumber got his pipes tightened by incumbent Democrat Marcy Kaptur. She won Ohio’s newly formed 9th Congressional District with 73 percent of the vote. Readers may recall that Kaptur beat Dennis Kucinich in the 2012 Democratic primary. This new district merged Kaptur’s old Greater Toledo district and Kucinich’s old district of western Cuyahoga County including parts of Cleveland (1).

For Joe the Plummer, aka Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, this election was his first foray into the world of electoral politics. Joe burst on to the national scene in 2008. He asked the then campaigning Sen. Barack Obama about concerns he and hundreds of thousands of small-business owners around the country had and still have. Joe found himself a national commentator and an icon for lower taxes and less government.

Another notable representative, Democratic incumbent Betty (Cash for Clunkers) Sutton, got T-boned by Republican Jim Renacci, 52-48 percent. Sutton is best known for her 2009 amendment to the American Clean Energy and Security Act. That included an incentive for Americans to buy new cars offering better mileage and less pollution. That incentive became known as Cash for Clunkers. (For more details on CFC, please see my Sept. 15, 2012, column “Campaign contributions: Cash for clunkers?” http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/12988531-campaign-contributionscash-for-clunkers)

Ohio’s two statewide issues each lost by approximately 2-1 margins. Issue 1 is the result of an amendment to Ohio’s constitution, which requires that, every 20 years, Ohioans vote on whether they want an Ohio constitutional convention. I think it speaks to the times we are in when the idea of a constitutional convention is only defeated by a 2-1 margin. Even though Ohio’s unemployment rate is significantly lower than the national average, as noted below, that is still a lot of people unemployed for a long time. Plus there are inflation and more taxes to exacerbate matters.

Issue 2 was an attempt to form an independent redistricting commission. While non-partisan, it backers were mostly Democrats. The problem was not the idea, as the obviously gerrymandered newly formed 9th district, noted above, exemplifies. The devil was in the proverbial details. For example, members of the proposed commission could in effect be appointed for life and have unlimited expense accounts. Yes, really!(2)

Ohio lost two Congressional seats (and hence two electoral votes) as a result of the 2010 Census. So Ohio will now have 12 out of 16 Republican US Representatives instead of 13 out of 18.

The Ohio Senate remains 23 out of 33 Republican. And the Ohio House of Representatives picked-up one Republican seat for a 60-39 majority.

Ohio’s Supreme Court remains 6-1 Republican. While technically nonpartisan, it’s interesting that two incumbents, one from each major party, lost to their opposites.

The statewide offices starting with governor are up for election in 2014.

Ohio’s pivotal role in the 2012 presidential election will probably arithmetically diminish when official vote totals are in. However, the timing of when Ohio was called for Obama followed about a nanosecond later by the election being called for Obama, will resonate in memories for sometime. Consequently, us Buckeyes can continue to expect more media messages that made us miss the ads for anti-diarrhea medicine.

The reason for the arithmetic diminution is that now it’s clear that even if Romney had carried Ohio, he would still have lost both the popular and electoral votes. Remember Ohio is and will remain electorally important because only six states have more electoral votes at least through the 2020 election. However, the notion that Republicans must win Ohio to win the presidency, belongs in the heap of political superstitions.(3)

This column is about Ohio...Ohio’s US Senate vote and its presidential vote are discussed below. More on the national results in a column next week after I have studied more complete data.

In my less-than-stellar prediction column, “Romney by a nose”(4) I explained why I thought Obama would carry Ohio and the complete irony of it. That was the most accurate part of my prediction and basically reasoned correctly, as discussed below.

Ohio’s unemployment rate is close to 7 percent, good enough to warrant re-election on a national scale. This is due to the pro-growth policies constantly being pushed by conservative Republican Gov. John Kasich and supported by the Republican General Assembly. The irony is that these pro-growth policies are polar opposites to what Obama seems to have in mind. Yet he benefited from them. This may have been the single biggest factor in Obama’s success in Ohio.(5)

Democrat incumbent US Senator Sherrod Brown beat Republican challenger Josh Mandel 50-45 percent. Of the 5,241,284 votes cast for US Senator (6): Brown received 2,645,942 (50.3 percent), Mandel received 2,371,242 (45.1 percent). Independent Scott Rupert received 241,108 votes (4.6 percent).

Of the 5,379,158 votes Ohioans cast for President, Obama received 2,690,841 (50.2 percent), Romney received 2,583,582 (48.2 percent), and Others received 88,051 (1.6 percent).

It’s highly unusual for a senator to nearly outdraw a president when the two are closely aligned. This is what I meant in my prediction column about a reverse coattail effect. (7) Brown is very good at constituent services and since he votes with Obama 95 percent of the time, some of this carried over to Obama.

Obama carried 16 of Ohio’s 88 counties. 13 are larger urban areas and three more rural. Two of the three were surprises but not enough to change results. The third is Athens County, home of the very diverse and liberal Ohio University.

Statewide, 67 percent of the registered voters voted. From the sample I checked, that ranged from a low of 54.5 percent (Athens) to 75.0 percent (Geauga, just east of Cuyahoga).


1) The roughly 70 miles between the western edge of Greater Cleveland and eastern edge of Greater Toledo is sparsely populated and includes a somewhat irregular shore line. The new 9th District covers all that land as well as parts of Lake Erie and parts of the two metro areas.

Kaptur is a longtime, very popular representative from the Toledo area, despite her having a degree from the University of Michigan.

Wurzelbacher lives in Holland, Ohio, which is a northwest suburb of Toledo.

2) See particularly points 4&5 under “ballot language” in link http://http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Ohio_Redistricting_Amendment,_Issue_2_(2012)

3) It may be that because Ohio has many critical factors in common with the entire nation, what a candidate must do to win Ohio is very similar to what a candidate must do to win the country. If that’s true, it should apply to both parties. In fact, Ohio’s results have been a very good predictor, but far from a hundred percent. One can see this in almost any listing of historic results of presidential elections by state. The modern Republican party started around 1860, with Lincoln as its first presidential candidate. Ohio supported Lincoln.

4) Nov. 6, 2012 column Prediction: Romney over Obama, by a nose http://http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/13342613-prediction-romney-over-obama-by-a-nose

5) Ohio’s recovery enabled Obama and Brown to take credit where it wasn’t due. Plus they successfully grossly distorted the auto bailout issue, which was pretty important in Ohio (and other “car states,” such as Michigan and Indiana). Time will show it was really a UAW bailout and had little to do with the health of GM. Romney and Mandel wanted GM to be healthy and also protect the pensions of all workers. Under Obama’s bailout—-as opposed to the structured bankruptcy Romney and Mandel wanted--non-union (UAW) workers lost more pensions and jobs.

Structured bankruptcies are sometimes called “quick rinse” bankruptcies. That’s where all stakeholders negotiate details ahead of time with the federal government participating. This is presented to a judge who usually approves the process and it starts shortly after the decree is issued. This can literally be years faster than the standard Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

6) Numbers are unofficial and from various pages of the Ohio Secretary of State’s web site http://www2.sos.state.oh.us/pls/enrpublic/f?p=212:41:1563200477929402::NO::P41_REGION,P41_RACE_CODE:Statewide,PR

7) One way to show this reverse coattail is to see that Ohioans cast 137,874 more votes for president than they did for US Senator. But Obama only received 51,366 more total votes than Brown. If the senatorial race had been proportionate to the presidential race, which theoretically should be the case when the two have virtually identical records, Obama should have received 69,576 more votes than Brown. If Obama was a stronger candidate for president than Brown was for senator, he should have received more than 69,576 more than Brown. Instead, Brown received proportionately more and that helped Obama.

As summarized in the main article, neither Obama nor Brown appear to have helped the rest of the Democrats on Ohio’s ballot. In fact, if anything the top two candidates got help from down the ticket. In the races for US Congress and the two houses of the General Assembly, most victories were not close. More than half the winners received 54 percent or more of the vote, and most of the remaining winners received more than 52 percent of the vote. This was without regard to party. And on the county vote summaries, the votes for president and for US Senator were usuallly much closer than the races for the other positions in each county.

Also, Rupert is a member of the Liberty Party, which might be described as somewhat Libertarian and Federalist. Even if they all backed Mandel, Brown would have won but by a much smaller margin. The same is true for the impact of the non-major party candidates for president.

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