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Red Wine And Blue Founder Already Looking Ahead To 2022 To Turn Ohio Bluer

Red Wine and Blue founder Katie Paris, right, poses with Julie Collins, a fellow organizer. [Jeremy Paris]
Red Wine and Blue founder Katie Paris, right, poses with Julie Collins, a fellow organizer. [Jeremy Paris]

Democrats may have won the campaign for the presidency with the election of Joe Biden, but they didn't win the battle of Ohio. President Donald Trump won the state again, repeating the 8-point margin of victory he enjoyed in 2016. Katie Paris, the founder of Red Wine and Blue, still sees some bright spots in the unofficial results, especially among the voters her group is working to energize: white suburban Democratic women. Paris joined Morning Edition host Amy Eddings Tuesday for some post-election analysis.

When we spoke last week, before Election Day, you were hoping the so-called wine moms would help flip Ohio blue. Why didn't that happen?

Trump's margin, let's keep in mind, is going to decrease as the votes are counted, this will not be an 8-point win. And one reason for that is that Democrats did gain ground in suburban areas. In Northeast Ohio, we saw suburban areas on the [West] Side like Bay Village and Rocky River go bluer. On the East Side, it went blue all the way out to Chagrin Falls and even down to Hudson. Hudson, Ohio, flipped blue for the first time in 2020. Was it enough? No. Was this always just one piece of the puzzle? Yes, absolutely. And we have so much work to do, Amy.

But the swings that we saw, if you look at the exit polls coming off of the presidential in 2016, white, college-educated suburban women in Ohio went for Trump by 17 points. In 2020, the same demographic went for Joe Biden by 20 points. So this is a significant swing. And it's notable that the margin in Ohio was similar to other battleground states where there was a lot more investment.

Were these gains among white, suburban Democratic women also seen in down-ballot races?

So we're pretty excited, actually, that all of the state legislative races we targeted, our candidates won or gained ground.

All right. But Democrats actually lost seats in the Ohio General Assembly. What's this mean for your strategy? Energizing white, suburban Democratic voters may not be enough. Won't you need rural and blue collar women?

We work in coalition with so many leaders and groups across Ohio. And Ohio is a complex state and it's going to take all of us and investment in all of that work. And you're absolutely right that there were real differences between college-educated and non-college voters, both among women and men. And so Democrats actually made gains in rural areas. Republicans just gained a lot more. I still see a path here. But so key to that is all of us working and coalition together.

Republicans have swept Ohio statewide elections in three straight election cycles. And Trump's victory in Ohio appears to tee up Sen. Rob Portman, Gov. Mike DeWine, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, Attorney General Dave Yost and Secretary of State Frank LaRose for re-election. What kind of challengers, Katie, do you think could make a dent in the Red Wall?

I am excited about potential Democratic challengers in 2022. I will say right now I am hopeful that we have at least one either running for Senate or governor, that one of those challengers is indeed a woman. And I think this is critical.

The women who have become engaged and have contributed to these gains that we have seen in these suburban areas that are growing, Amy, they're sticking with us. This is a community. And the number one thing we are hearing following Election Day is, “What next? What more can we do?” And I just don't know if the same thing is going to be true of these Trump voters sticking with other Republicans like Portman and DeWine in our state. I mean, a significant portion of these Trump voters actually want to see DeWine impeached. So I think it's going to be an interesting road ahead, perhaps with Republican primaries. That could get pretty interesting. But I think that… while conventional wisdom might say coming off of 2016, “Oh, Trump won again here, Republicans have it made in 2022,” I think it's a far more interesting picture.

Expertise: Hosting live radio, writing and producing newscasts, Downtown Cleveland, reporting on abortion, fibersheds, New York City subway system, coffee