Ohio Stays A Bellwether, Going Overwhelmingly To Trump After A Long And Surprising Election Night

Republican President-elect Donald Trump rolled into a big electoral win by carrying crucial swing states, and he won Ohio 8.5% over Democrat Hillary Clinton despite many obstacles and against almost all predictions. Election Day was smooth, with no major technology or security problems. And once Trump took Ohio, the momentum started rolling his way nationwide, and his supporters were ready to party, along with campaign director Bob Paduchik.

The Ohio Republican Party had a separate and more subdued celebration going on, with Chairman Matt Borges announcing with a one-sentence statement that Trump had taken Ohio. The Ohio GOP and the Trump campaign had their differences - what’s not clear is where the Ohio Republican Party goes from here. Trump supporter Rep. Andrew Brenner (R-Powell) says unity within the party can be achieved. And as fractured as the Republican Party may be in Ohio, the Democrats will likely go through a much worse post-election phase, under Ohio Democratic Party Chair David Pepper.

The other big race on the ballot in Ohio was the US Senate race, and there was no surprise in the outcome. Incumbent Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) beat Democratic former Gov. Ted Strickland by 21 points, which was a bigger margin than polling suggested. It was an expensive race, with the candidates raising $35 million at last report and with tens of millions in outside spending. Strickland conceded early on, and Portman called for unity in his acceptance speech. 

It was a bad night for many Ohio Democrats. Only about 15 of the Ohio House 99 races were considered competitive, and the GOP picked up another seats, so there will be 66 Republicans and 33 Democrats in the House when the next session of the General Assembly convenes in January. Senate Republicans also added a seat to their 23 member dominance of that chamber. Congressional incumbents had a perfect record on the night, and beat their challengers by double digits. And finally, on the Ohio Supreme Court, Maureen O’Connor ran unopposed for a second term as Chief Justice. Republicans Pat Fischer and Pat DeWine were elected to the court, replacing fellow Republicans Paul Pfeifer and Judith Lanzinger.

One major factor in this year’s election was early voting. Early voting set records in 71 of 88 counties, including Franklin and Hamilton Counties, two of the state’s biggest Democratic strongholds. On the last weekend of in person early voting, Jo Ingles and Andy Chow of the Statehouse News Bureau talked to voters in two counties in Central Ohio - one run by Republicans and one dominated by Democrats.

Two experts who’ve been watching election statistics and returns talked about their views of the data and the results. Rep. Mike Curtin (D-Marble Cliff) did not run for re-election. He’s retired from the Columbus Dispatch, where he was a reporter, associate publisher, vice president and COO. And he’s the author of Ohio Politics Almanac. Mike Dawson was the communications director and press secretary for Republican Gov. and Sen. George Voinovich. He now compiles and organizes statewide voting results and data on his website ohioelectionresults.com.

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