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Romney's win over Santorum came with the help of urban areas
But an energized socially conservative base gave Ohio a big red look
by WKSU's M.L. SCHULTZE
This story is part of a special series.


Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
 
Rick Santorum and his mother in Steubenville. He spoke when the vote was still too close to call, but ended up losing Ohio's GOP presidential primary to Mitt Romney.
Courtesy of LAURA FONG
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In The Region:

Ohio, once again, was the consummate swing state on Tuesday. Razor-thin margins kept anyone from definitely calling the race for Mitt Romney until after midnight.

WKSU’s M.L. Schultze spoke with John Green, the director of the University of Akron’s Ray C. Bliss Institute about how the Ohio votes broke down, and how social issues became significant in a race supposed to be dominated by the economy.

SCHULTZE/GREEN on Ohio primary results

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The map of Ohio with yesterday’s GOP presidential results on it shows a mass of red for Rick Santorum, with a few significant spots of blue – centered on Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati – going for Mitt Romney. In the end those spots represented population bases dense enough to carry the state Romney’s way.

But John Green of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics – whose specialty is religion and politics – notes that Santorum found a way to energize his base.

Although the mantra going into the election underscored the importance of the economy to voters, exits polls suggested that social issues played an important role as well. Green says Rick Santorum’s focus on the umbrella of family social issues not only distinguished him from top rival, Mitt Romney, but also brought out many of the rural and conservative voters who might have otherwise stayed home.

Getting out the vote

Green notes that geographically, Santorum did well in many of the small towns and rural parts of southern Ohio and the northwest part of the state. He also won the white evangelical vote.

But Green notes that, as elsewhere, it was Mitt Romney, a Mormon, who took the Catholic vote. Catholics are the classic swing voters around the nation because some will pursue the conservative teachings of their church, while others will be drawn by the social welfare policies of the Obama administration.

Despite the fact that Romney took Ohio, a win that will help with larger states in future primaries, the voter turnout was low. Green believes the turnout may have been stalled by the dynamics of the campaign and the mix of candidates. And the acceleration of negative and attack ads, Green says, has discouraged many voters, and kept them home.  

Green says the fall presidential campaign will rest largely with three things: the economy, getting base supporters to the polls and how well the Republican candidate does in giving voters a reason to vote for him, not just against President Obama.  

But John Green of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics – whose specialty is religion and politics – notes that Santorum found a way to energize his base.

Green says the fall presidential campaign will rest largely with three things: the economy, getting the base to the polls and how well the Republican candidate does at giving voters a reason to vote for him, not just against President Obama.  
-- Web story by Matt Meduri 


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