Note: This is a blog post from July 16 that never got published. No clue why. But when I went looking for Hamilton County info for the earlier Ohio poll I knew something was missing. Well, here it is:
We’ve had this county show up in a few posts — both in the Ohio battleground Map post as well as in the voter registration post. The Cincinnati Enquirer takes a look at this county that may be the home of Romney’s Vice President, but may also be the county that decides our next President:
Hamilton County is in play. After going Democratic in 2008 for the first time in a presidential race since 1964, Democrats hope to build on Barack Obama’s historic win here while Republicans hope to prove it was an anomaly. Obama visits today [Monday] for the first time in 10 months, but it certainly won’t be the last time he’ll be here before Election Day on Nov. 6, said county Democratic Chairman Tim Burke.
“I think everybody concedes that Mitt Romney can’t win the White House without winning Ohio,” Burke said, “and he can’t win Ohio without winning Hamilton County.” Burke and county Republican Chairman Alex Triantafilou don’t agree on a lot, but they agree Hamilton County will be critical this year. “We can push (the election) over the edge because we are a critical corner of the state,” Triantafilou said. “Electorally, at the end of the day (2008) wasn’t a close election. We feel like this one will be close.”
Swing county in a swing state
Ohio is one of the largest swing states, and in 2008 Hamilton County voted slightly more for Obama than the state as a whole at 53 percent vs. 51.5 percent. “We are the local representatives of the national brand,” said Triantafilou. “In 2008, I would argue, the brand was a little tarnished, and 2010 was the beginning of our comeback” with the elections of Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Terrace Park.
Reservations for the Fall
Obama has made several trips to northern and central Ohio in recent months – that’s because the first priority in a campaign is always to shore up the areas of strongest support, said Herb Asher, professor emeritus of political science at Ohio State University. Despite the increasingly Democratic leanings of Hamilton County, neighboring Butler, Clermont and Warren counties remain firmly Republican. “You always take care of your base,” Asher said. “We know northeast Ohio is going to be very Democratic. Turnout there is going to make all the difference in the world.” At the same time, Asher noted, in a close election every vote counts, and they count equally regardless of which part of the state they come from.
Until 2008, Republican presidential candidates could count on Hamilton County, although margins have shrunk dramatically since 1996, when losing candidate Bob Dole took 50.1 percent of the county vote. Now Hamilton is one of three counties nationwide that the national media is following as a bellwether of the election. The Romney campaign, which raised $3 million during a stop here last month, is conceding nothing. “Absolutely, Hamilton County is winnable,” said Christopher Maloney, Ohio campaign spokesman. “It has traditionally been a stronghold for Republicans … and we’re counting on it to put us over the top in November.”
How Hamilton County Has Voted