Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Southeastern Ohio

Going into the Ohio primary, Hillary Clinton's hope rested on her ability to stop Obama's momentum among white men and those at the lower end of the economic ladder. She had lost much of this part of her coalition in Wisconsin. When looking at Ohio, the southeastern part of the state, namely the 6th and 18th congressional districts are where you would find the battleground for these voters. Largely rural and dotted with small towns, this is an area that has been acutely hit by the state's declining economic fortunes. It is as much West Virginia as it is Ohio. CQ's Politics in America describes the sixth thustly: "Many of the district's counties, especially those along the Ohio River in old coal mining territory, suffer high unemployment and have difficulty retaining younger people. Meigs county has Ohio's lowest median household income."

This part of the state has also been a battleground for both parties. The sixth district was previously represented by now Governor Ted Strickland (and now held by Dem. Charlie Wilson). A big Clinton backer, he had an incentive to turn out his district for her. During his time in Congress (split following a loss in the Republican landslide of '94), Strickland had to fight a number of close races. President Bush won the district in both 2000 and 2004. The 18th is the home of disgraced former Rep. Bob Ney. Captured by Democrat Zack Space in 2006, the district gave Bush 75% in 2004. In the lead up to yesterday's vote, Bill Clinton was dispatched to the region a number of times, in addition to Senator Clinton's visits.

Looking at the results from yesterday, we see that Clinton was indeed successful in building her firewall in Ohio, especially in this corner of the state. The Athens News breaks down the returns here. While Obama was able to win around Ohio University in Athens, he got trounced in the surrounding areas. Overall, Clinton received 70% of the vote in the 6th district and 66% in the 18th (see results here).

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