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To Understand Ohio: How Will Women Influence the 2020 Election?

photo of 2017 Women's March in Washington D.C.
The 2017 Women's March in Washington D.C.

Women make up 51% of the population in Ohio. Author David Giffels is considering the role they could play in next year’s election for a new book he’s working on. We've been checking in with Giffels each month about what he’s finding in a series of conversations we’re calling “To Understand Ohio.” This month Giffels spent some time talking with one young woman who lives near Columbus.

Driven by her daughter
Lacie Cheuvront is a single mom who lives in Hilliard, near Columbus. Cheuvront has some very strong opinions about President Donald Trump.

She’s working two jobs, making her way through nursing school. She’s been politically active her whole life but has stepped it up in the last year, including going to the Women’s March in Washington D.C. this past winter. “As the mother of a young daughter [she] has been feeling strongly about the way Donald Trump, both as a candidate and as president has spoken about women and seemed to treat women and women’s issues, so she felt this sense of carrying the torch for her daughter by going to this march,” Giffels said.

Giffels says he knows that statistically, the women’s vote is going to be very important in 2020, and it’s going to be important in Ohio. “People I’ve spoken to have told me that white, suburban, college-educated women could be the factor that determines which way Ohio’s vote is going to go.”

As he’s been doing in his work on other parts of the book, his goal for this section was to get a sense of one person as a whole person. He says he’s not “extrapolating” Lacie’s story out to be anything larger than her own story.

Giffels and his own daughter
Giffels says his own daughter turned 18 and was able to vote for the first time in the 2016 election, and he’s been thinking about her in these very unusual political times. He approached his daughter to ask her about interviewing her for the book. She was willing to talk.

“It was interesting for her to put into context what it’s like to be a young female voter in 2016 when she was given the choice between the first female [major-party nominee] for president and this male candidate who has said some very misogynistic things including about his own daughter,” both in terms of her own disappointment over that outcome and how strongly she feels about next year’s election.

Barnstorming Ohio
Giffels book, “Barnstorming Ohio”, due out next year is not meant to be a predictor of who’s going to win the 2020 presidential election, but rather an opportunity to gauge the top issues and concerns for people around the state in a way that represents conversations playing out around the country. When it comes to women, Giffels says his takeaway from his research for this section of the book is a newfound recognition of their power.

He says what happened in the 2016 election was, in a way, “underground”: through Facebook groups and invisible connections among women that became very visible “organically and spontaneously with the first women’s march.” He believes the effect of that was obvious in the 2018 mid-term elections and will be even more apparent next year, whether women are galvanized against or for President Trump.

"To Understand Ohio," we’re checking in with David Giffels each month as he travels around the state working on his new book, “Barnstorming Ohio”, ahead of next year’s presidential election. 

Andrew Meyer is the deputy editor of news at Ideastream Public Media.