Vox had an article out about how Ohio is trending Republican. They did this boogity boogity thing where they said that without winning the Senate seat this year, Democrats will lose the state in 2020 because Clinton was defeated by 8 points in 2016 while Obama won by 3 points.
Vox is Wrong
Ohio has been a presidential flipper before. While Obama won both in 2008 and 2012, it went for Bush in 2004 as well as 2000. In all of those results the numbers were fairly close-2008 Obama won by 5 but otherwise it was around 2-3% for the other three times. Why they call it part of the blue wall, I don’t know. Probably due to the fact that Ohio was a fairly heavily union state until the 1990s when it has made the slow decline due to offshoring of industrial jobs.
That hasn’t been the case though since the 1990s. It does have a long history of very masculine work industries from steel manufacturing to cars and still is dominated by those industries despite their declines. That type of workforce has an impact on certain things such as how gender is viewed.
It is a very white state-82% of the state is white although the population is 51% female. Religion isn’t as important as it was as only 44% of the state has people who consider themselves religious. But it has a fairly high married rate at 50% of the population.
Racism in Ohio
Despite the fact that the state vote for Obama twice, it has a racism issue like many predominately white states. Even in 2012 there were out and proud racists happily talking to the media. As recently as 1999 they had continuous KKK rallies including a big one in Cleveland who had a black mayor at the time. And there have been no small issues when it comes to policing and the Black community.
With these problems, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that the Obama to Trump voters trend happened in Ohio. While Obama himself was low key for the most part on racism, the very existence of a Black man in the White House caused a lot of white people to have issues that was expressed in 2016. Part of the reason they were so expressive was because Hillary Clinton was one of the few national candidates to say to whites “We need to check our own behavior.” Her private speech calling people who were racists deplorable was another factor because it was pretty obvious she was talking about the racists.
Sexism in Ohio
What is less talked about is the role that sexism played in the 2016 election in the state and elsewhere. While a white woman might consider voting for a Black man because after all she doesn’t want to be seen as racist–voting for a white woman who was telling her that wasn’t good enough was going to make her angry. Add in all of the other ways that women tend to internalize misogyny against one another and you have the 2016 results. Clinton only won 39% of white women in Ohio per the exit polls. (She won 92% of Black women because they know better then to take any risk.)
Those twin factors are not going to occur in 2018 with the Sherrod Brown race. He is a white male and while Dems are definitely trending away from white males as candidates, he’s their incumbent and they won’t vote for any primary challengers. He also isn’t really vocal on the issue with racism. With him, economics will help.
Why Vox is hyperventilating over this I don’t know. Ohio wasn’t viable for the Democrats because we don’t shy from confronting racism and while we still have a major problem confronting the sexism on our own side, we are looking like the sane option more and more as Republicans continue to have the stench of corruption all over them.
That, more than anything, will be why we win in 2018 as well as 2020.