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Counter Points is written by WVXU Senior Political Analyst Howard Wilkinson. In it, he shares insights on political news on the local, state and national level that impacts the 2020 election. Counter Points is delivered once a week on Wednesdays and will cease publication soon after the November election is decided.

With Biden Victory, Ohio Fails To Pick President For First Time Since 1960

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., watch fireworks during the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention, Thursday, Aug. 20.
Andrew Harnik
Associated Press
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., watch fireworks during the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention, Thursday, Aug. 20.

Democrat Joe Biden has secured the 270 Electoral College votes he needed to win the U.S. presidency, AP has reported, which makes this election the first time in 60 years that Ohio failed to choose the winner.

University of Cincinnati political scientist professor David Niven says this election makes it clear that Ohio is no longer a bellwether state that mirrors the overall national vote. That also means Ohio is no longer a competitive state for the parties – which is bad news if you are a voter who enjoys personal visits from candidates, lots of campaign ads and attention during election season.

Niven says Ohio already went into this presidential race having lost its top-tier battleground status, and this outcome just makes that point even more clear.

“Not only shouldn’t we have been a toss-up, we weren’t anywhere close to being one," Niven says. "And the future battle for the presidencies is highly unlikely to run through Ohio."

As in 2016, polls were off in Ohio – showing the presidential race about even ahead of Election Day. Instead, Trump won Ohio by 8 points over his Democratic challenger for the second election in a row – and with more votes than last time. Niven says that’s because polls didn’t accurately show who was going to show up to vote.

The Trump campaign says it built on its 2016 victory by getting more votes in historically Democratic strongholds, flipping blue counties such as Mahoning and Lorain.

Republican strategist Mark Weaver believes the results makes Ohio less of a battleground in future presidential elections.

"It doesn't mean that we're not still gonna be focused on a little, it's just hard to make the case to come to Ohio as a swing state now that the Republican candidate has won it with 8 points or better two cycles in a row," says Republican strategist Mark Weaver.

Along with Trump's wins in 2016 and 2020, Ohio has seen Republicans sweep its statewide executive races – governor, attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer and auditor – twice since 2010.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is the only Democrat to consistently run a successful statewide campaign in Ohio in recent years, most recently winning re-election in 2018. He says it's still a winnable state, but the party needs to do a better job at connecting with voters with a pro-worker message.

"In terms of being a red or blue state, we are clearly a state that's difficult to win for Democrats," Brown said. "But I won the state by a pretty healthy margin, 7%, and I'm not exactly a conservative, hide-in-the-corner, don't-speak-out, kind of Democrat. So I think it's still a winnable state."

The only other Democrats to win statewide races in Ohio in the last decade have been four Ohio Supreme Court candidates: Bill O'Neill, Michael Donnelly, Melody Stewart and Jennifer Brunner. 

Copyright 2020 WOSU 89.7 NPR News

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.
Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.