Despite a 24-year process of gradual reddening, culminating in a 400,000-vote-plus win for President Donald Trump on Tuesday, political science experts said Wednesday that the results of Ohio’s 2016 and 2020 elections aren’t necessarily signs that the state is falling into a pattern of voting for Republicans.
“We can swing in really big ways,” said Richard Harknett, head of the University of Cincinnati’s political science department. “The fact that we did not, in back-to-back elections right now, I think is more a reflection on the president.”
There have only been a few occasions in the last several decades that Ohio’s ultimate choice hasn’t been the choice of the Electoral College. If Biden wins in 2020, this will be the first election since 1960 — when Ohio went for Nixon over Kennedy — that Ohio’s electorate was out of step with college electors.
If Trump wins again, the path to the White House would appear to still run straight through Columbus.
But Harknett said the Trump presidency and the 2020 election have both been so unusual that it’s hard to forecast any future trends based on what happens now. Ohio could stay Republican this year and go blue in 2024, depending on who’s running.
“This is less about party alignment and more about candidate alignment,” he said.
Hamilton County Republican Party chair Alex Triantafilou told 700 WLW host Bill Cunningham he agrees.
“I think that the president has turned the norms of politics kind of upside, Willie,” he said. “It used to be a big turnout usually was bad for Republicans, but guess what? Donald Trump has turned out millions more voters than expected.”
The streak was still up in the air as of Wednesday night. Voters in the United States may not know who will sit in the White House next February (and how strong Ohio’s record is) until the weekend.