Q&A: How Trump Won Ohio

An image of the state of Ohio, in red. [Shutterstock]
Ohio went red for Republican President Donald Trump in 2020. [Shutterstock]
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As Ohio goes, so goes the presidency. That may be good news for President Donald Trump in this yet-to-be-decided race. That's because he won Ohio, beating Democrat Joe Biden easily, 53.4 percent to 45.2 percent in unofficial results. ideastream reporter Nick Castele joined ideastream’s Morning Edition Host Amy Eddings for an analysis of the president's apparent Ohio victory.

The president won in 2016 with wide support from non-college educated whites in rural areas. He also won in the suburbs, especially among women. How'd he do it this time?

Looking at the unofficial results that we can see right now, it looks like Trump largely improved his performance in places where he was strong. Meanwhile, some areas that were trending toward Hillary Clinton seemed to be trending even more strongly toward Joe Biden. As just one example looking in the Cuyahoga County area, Bay Village, Rocky River, Westlake, these west shore Cleveland suburbs that, historically, had had a conservative or Republican bent to them, went much more strongly for Joe Biden than they even did for Hillary Clinton in 2016. On the other side of that coin, Donald Trump improved his performance in Parma, which is a very big suburb of Cleveland where he eked out a small win over Hillary Clinton four years ago, did much better this time against Biden. 

So that would suggest to me that President Trump did a much better job at rallying his supporters to go to the polls, especially in rural areas, to overcome some of these gains in Cleveland's – for example, those west Cleveland suburbs you were talking about. Democrats were hoping to get high turnout in urban areas and from minority voters in places like Cleveland. Tell me about the turnout in Cuyahoga County.

Judging by the unofficial results we can see at this point, Cuyahoga County turnout looks to be a little bit up over where it was four years ago, in terms of just the hard numbers of votes cast. It's above 2016. I'm not sure whether it's going to reach 2012 levels, though, and it certainly will not reach 2008 levels. These were years when high turnout in urban centers like Cuyahoga County help propel Barack Obama to the presidency. You know, turnout was lower in terms of the hard number of votes cast this time around.

You were watching state races in Northeast Ohio to see whether Democratic trends were going to show up there. What did you find?

There's one race I'm keeping an eye on right now, Ohio House District 16… Dave Greenspan is the incumbent Republican. He is narrowly behind Monique Smith right now. I don't believe it's been called by the Associated Press. This is a Democratic challenger hoping to ride this wave of suburban Democrats to take some of these formerly Republican seats. Right now she's ahead. We'll have to find out how many late-arriving absentees or provisionals are still out there.

Finally, a big win for the Cleveland public schools. How important was it for that levy renewal and levy increase pass?

The school's CEO, Eric Gordan, has said that if this levy didn't pass the school district would be looking at making cuts. This was an increase, it was an additional levy, and it faced a dark money campaign against it in the form of mailers sent out to Cleveland voters but that didn't seem to really be able to sink it – clearly, wasn't able to sink this levy, because they're sailing to victory right now. 

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