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Government & Politics
2020 is looking to be a pivotal year in politics. But this year's elections are about much more than the race for the White House. And the coronavirus pandemic is proving to be a complicating factor. WKSU, our colleagues at public radio stations across Ohio and the region and at NPR will bring you coverage of all the races from the national to the local level.

Five Ohio Counties May Have Clues to Watch on Election Night

The map of Ohio's presidential vote in 2016, when Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by carrying 80 counties. He won by 8 points.
ohioelectionresults.com
The map of Ohio's presidential vote in 2016, when Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by carrying 80 counties. He won by 8 points.

Ohio may not be the battleground state it usually is in a presidential election, since the national focus is likely to be on Pennsylvania. But Ohio’s status as a state that mirrors the national vote – a bellwether – is at stake this time.

Ohio has long been a bellwether. No Republican has won the White House without winning Ohio, and no Democrat since 1960 has become president without carrying Ohio.

But that wasn’t what happened in 2016, when Donald Trump won Ohio by 8 points but lost the national popular vote. He won the election by winning the electoral college, but Ohio's results did not reflect the rest of the nation's.

Election data expert Mike Dawson, who created the election data archive ohioelectionresults.com, said he’ll be watching Wood, Erie and Portage Counties, which he thinks will signal how the rest of the state voted.

But Dawson said there are two other counties to keep an eye on.

“The other two counties I’d watch would be Montgomery and Lorain because those two counties were the closest to being even in 2016," Dawson said.

In 2016, Montgomery County voted for a Republican for president for the first time since 1988, but Trump’s margin of victory was .73 percent. Lorain County has been blue since 1984 and it went to Hillary Clinton by .09%, or 131 votes.

Requests for absentee ballots and early in-person votes from Democratic-affiliated voters have been far outpacing those from Republicans. But unaffiliated voters still make up the majority of the early vote.


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