Ohio has a reputation as the quintessential bellwether state, and for good reason. It has picked the winning presidential candidate in all but four elections since the end of the Civil War, including every election since 1964, the longest active streak of any state.
But lagging population growth, demographic stagnation and industry losses have contributed to the state’s rightward shift since 2012, culminating in President Donald Trump’s definitive eight-point victory over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the last presidential election in 2016.
That trend looked likely to continue in 2020 — that is, until broken presidential promises, a global pandemic, and a disastrously managed re-election campaign put the state solidly back in play.
Democrats, meanwhile, nominated Joe Biden, a moderate candidate with his own Rust Belt background who won the state twice as President Barack Obama’s vice-presidential candidate.
“Ohio really had continued its move to the right, from a purple state, to perhaps a pink state, but not really a red state, yet,” said Herb Asher, a professor emeritus of political science at Ohio State University. ”But then this last year unfolded.”