Bellwether travels: Will the rural vote help win Ohio for Mitt?

posted at 5:41 pm on November 6, 2012 by Mary Katharine Ham

Bowling Green, a town of 30,000, was carved out of the mucky wetlands they call the Great Black Swamp— a remnant of an ancient glacier that made the shores of Lake Eerie one of the best places to get a wagon wheel stuck in the 1800s. A nearby oil discovery brought money to the farming area in the late 1800s, and its legacy remains in the towering, tony homes still standing on the town’s main drag. They’re now surrounded by the characteristically shabby group houses of a college town, 20-somethings jogging in the brisk fall weather or lounging on porch couches.

If Ohio is a bellwether for the nation, the northwest corner is a bellwether for the state, and Wood County is a bellwether for the whole shebang. The county has been a reliable predictor of the mood of the nation, missing only one presidential pick since 1964 in 1976— one of only a handful of counties in the nation to do so (Ohio’s Tuscarawas County in the east is another). A Sunday Columbus Dispatch poll showed Obama up two in the state, but Romney up four in this region.

Wood’s combination of Bowling Green State University professors and young college students surrounded by communities of rural, churchgoing voters who lean right makes it a microcosm of the 50-50 nation.

One of those conservative voters sat in a local coffee shop on Main St. this weekend, discussing politics in hushed tones with a friend. Grounds for Thought is owned by a local Democrat running for Ohio house, so Barbara a retired teacher was careful to keep it quiet because, frankly, “we like their coffee.”

“My husband and I are in the farming community,” Barbara said. “So, many of the farm people that we talk to and the signs in their yard are for Romney.”

Like every other Republican in the state, Barbara points out encouraging anecdotes— her 92-year-old neighbor hasn’t had a political sign in his yard in 30 years until he put one up for the GOP candidate, 10 of 13 in her retired teachers group leaning right in a recent meeting. Though things seem quieter on the college campus for Obama than they were in 2008, she says the farming vote will have to turn out to make it happen for Romney.

“I definitely think they’re more excited (than 2008),” Barbara said of Republican voters, ticking off the locations of Romney’s large rallies in places like Defiance and Findlay.

She remembers how an underreported evangelical turnout won the state for for George W. Bush in 2004. The Romney campaign has done much less overt outreach to evangelical voters than Bush, but outside groups are in the state and seem convinced they’ll see an evangelical surge again today:

This year, the election in Ohio is about reactivating evangelical and Catholic voters who were missing in 2008, religious activists in the state said.

Among the army of religious forces playing roles are David Lane’s Los Angeles-based Pastors and Pews, Tony Perkins’ Washington-based Family Research Council, Ralph Reed’s Atlanta-based Faith and Freedom Coalition, and Phil Burres‘ Cincinnati-based Citizens for Community Values.

Mr. Lane and his California associates have held several glitzy mass rallies for the state’s churchgoers featuring high-profile religious and political leaders. Mr. Lane and Mr. Reed each has produced a voter guide to distribute to Ohio’s faithful, Mr. Blackwell said.

Columbus-based pollster and Republican campaign strategist Brett A. Sciotto said he sees evidence of a major religious conservative push in his state.

A full-page ad in the Marysville Journal-Tribune, near Columbus reflects some of those efforts. A handsome, young farming couple stands in a field under the headline, “When rural Ohio speaks, Ohio families win.” The ad includes the story of Bush’s win, saying rural voters could make the difference in saving “core liberties of free speech and freedom of religion.” The ad is paid for by outside group, Citizens for Community Values.

Preliminary early voting information from the Wood County Board of Elections suggests Republicans have at least closed the gap in that formerly Democrat-heavy metric. As of Friday, according to a local official, Republicans had turned in only two fewer early ballots than Democrats. In 2008, the final gap in early voting resulted in a double-digit advantage for Obama. Ohio residents don’t register by party, but voters are categorized as Democrats or Republicans depending on which party’s primary they’ve most recently voted in.

An Obama GOTV location was buzzing Saturday as a young college woman trained a group of canvassers, clipboards in hand. Obama volunteer Emily Garcia was running the show.

“I’m kind of as involved as you can get,” the BGSU sophomore said. She missed out on the Obama magic on campus in 2008, but said she was encouraged by the numbers turning up to get out the vote. Asked about enthusiasm on campus, she replied, “I think it’s pretty high.”

At the Ben Franklin craft store on Main St., Wendell, a 49-year-old engineer shopping with his teenage son, wondered if Ohio polling was picking up rural voters like him.

“We live out in the country. I think a lot of the people in our area are conservative so they lean toward the Romney ticket,” he said. He’s supporting Romney “because of his business experience. The government is a business and I think he can do what’s necessary.”

Wilma, a retired Obama voter browsing the aisles, voiced a common sentiment in Ohio, where voters are bombarded by campaign ads during every commercial break on TV and radio.

“I voted early and I wish it was over now,” she said with a laugh. “A lot of people who vote early, I think that’s what they’re thinking.”

She’s sympathetic to the president’s plea for a little more time to turn the country around.

“I almost feel like, the president should be in eight years because they can’t get anything done in four years,” she said.

Jana, a 27-year-old Republican, said she hears from others who are fed up with waiting.

“They’re upset that this hasn’t gone more positive,” she said. “They think, ‘well, we gave him his chance.’”

Update: This is what the radio sounds like in Ohio right now. I recorded a sampling while I was on the road. Please excuse the quality:


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Jim Geraghty reports that exit polls in MA are dead even between Brown and Fauxcahontas.

aunursa on November 6, 2012 at 5:43 PM

Exit poll data on Drudge. Only 25% of voters feel better off today than 4 years ago.

Oil Can on November 6, 2012 at 5:45 PM

This just in, exit polls coming in on Drudge!

Longing4Lincoln on November 6, 2012 at 5:45 PM

Buck Ofama. If Romney wins, it’s going to be by a wide margin. If Obama wins, it’ll be by the skin of his teeth.

Liam on November 6, 2012 at 5:45 PM

Almost certainly, if Mitt wins OH it will be due to a massive surge in turnout by evangelicals. There’s academic research that supports the conclusion that evangelicals — generally speaking — don’t answer telephone polls or door-to-door surveys, and therefore are less likely to show up in public polling.

Robert_Paulson on November 6, 2012 at 5:46 PM

I heard on talk radio a caller from an Ohio Amish area say “Look out the buggies are coming and their voting for Romney/Ryan.

meci on November 6, 2012 at 5:46 PM

Rubio 2016. Only about 5 hours until romney is kicked out of politics

Flapjackmaka on November 6, 2012 at 5:46 PM

Flapjackmaka on November 6, 2012 at 5:46 PM

Piss off.

Longing4Lincoln on November 6, 2012 at 5:47 PM

I’ll be happy with ANY Romney victory, even skin of the teeth

clnurnberg on November 6, 2012 at 5:48 PM

I hope.

Terrye on November 6, 2012 at 5:49 PM

****TROLLCOTT****

It’s a beautiful thing.

Cody1991 on November 6, 2012 at 5:49 PM

On Hannity, some of the rural areas of Ohio that are traditionally Republican are looking at record turnouts. Already at 68% turnout and still a couple hours to vote.

nextgen_repub on November 6, 2012 at 5:50 PM

Anyone know if Chrissy Pissypants has self-destructed yet?

Liam on November 6, 2012 at 5:50 PM

Piss off.

Longing4Lincoln on November 6, 2012 at 5:47 PM

The romneybots are going in defense mode

Flapjackmaka on November 6, 2012 at 5:51 PM

Ohio is a Red State when it comes to the Presidency. Why can’t we count on it this year? Oh yeah – the Republicans put into play a vanilla convictionless also-ran whose opinion swayed in the wind from Day 1 (of 2006, that is).

We may not have had bad choices in 2011, but that was no reason to select the worst choice, then try to pretend you made the right decision all this time when you knew all along that wasn’t the case. Just try to put on a smile and get through tonight. The only thing as hollow as Romney will be the outcome of the Election.

The Nerve on November 6, 2012 at 5:51 PM

Rubio 2016. Only about 5 hours until romney is kicked out of politics

Flapjackmaka on November 6, 2012 at 5:46 PM

Trollcott!!!

Terrye on November 6, 2012 at 5:52 PM

* may have had bad choices

The Nerve on November 6, 2012 at 5:52 PM

Billy Cunningham on Hannity: Huge lines in Republican counties – Hamilton, etc. Looking at something like an 80% turnout, far exceeding the Bush 2004 vote! Cunningham says for voters to “hold the line.” He thinks Romney will win Ohio by 5 pts! He’s lived in Ohio all his life and has never seen anything like this!

TarheelBen on November 6, 2012 at 5:53 PM

I’m detecting a couple of Hail Mary passes on the thread. Poorly done.

a capella on November 6, 2012 at 5:53 PM

Ohio is a Red State when it comes to the Presidency. Why can’t we count on it this year? Oh yeah – the Republicans put into play a vanilla convictionless also-ran whose opinion swayed in the wind from Day 1 (of 2006, that is).

We may not have had bad choices in 2011, but that was no reason to select the worst choice, then try to pretend you made the right decision all this time when you knew all along that wasn’t the case. Just try to put on a smile and get through tonight. The only thing as hollow as Romney will be the outcome of the Election.

The Nerve on November 6, 2012 at 5:51 PM

Trollcott 2!!!

Terrye on November 6, 2012 at 5:53 PM

…I don’t like Drudge right now!

KOOLAID2 on November 6, 2012 at 5:53 PM

Longing4Lincoln on November 6, 2012 at 5:47 PM

****TROLLCOTT****

It’s a beautiful thing.

Don’t let them spoil the evening.

Cody1991 on November 6, 2012 at 5:53 PM

The romneybots are going in defense mode

Flapjackmaka on November 6, 2012 at 5:51 PM

Actually, we’re just bored with liberals. There is nothing any lib can say that we haven’t already heard a thousand times before.

Liam on November 6, 2012 at 5:54 PM

****TROLLCOTT****

It’s a beautiful thing.

Cody1991 on November 6, 2012 at 5:49 PM

Yes, indeed.

Terrye on November 6, 2012 at 5:55 PM

Will the rural vote help win Ohio for Mitt?

It certainly is shaping up that way. Hamilton County is already saying record turnout, beating the 1960 election.

And the cities are way down.

Just get in line and STAY IN LINE. You have to 7:30 but once you are on, you will get to vote!

VICTORY

Rixon on November 6, 2012 at 5:55 PM

…I don’t like Drudge right now!

KOOLAID2 on November 6, 2012 at 5:53 PM

Don’t worry about exit polls! Obama ALWAYS over performs in exit polls!

TarheelBen on November 6, 2012 at 5:55 PM

My apologies for not observing the Trollcott. I was unaware that the bile-spewing nitwit on this thread was a troll. Seemed more like a leftover ABR whose candidate didn’t get the nod this time.

Longing4Lincoln on November 6, 2012 at 5:55 PM

Trolls are starting to pop up in stronger numbers…local community colleges must be letting out right about now.

Wish they would just focus on their Personaly Discovery or Western Florida Native American Women’s History homework instead.

nextgen_repub on November 6, 2012 at 5:56 PM

TarheelBen-

Just heard the same thing on Hannity’s radio show.Sure sounds like a good thang to me!!

jeffinsjvca on November 6, 2012 at 5:57 PM

This just in, exit polls coming in on Drudge!

Longing4Lincoln on November 6, 2012 at 5:45 PM

Exit polls are worthless…see 2000. Not worth getting worked up over. Chill out and wait for the results. I believe Virginia data will be coming in early and that is one of the big states. Must win for Mitt.

ZippyZ on November 6, 2012 at 5:57 PM

…I don’t like Drudge right now!

KOOLAID2 on November 6, 2012 at 5:53 PM

John Kerry was President for 7 hours, according to the 2004 exit polls.

Calm.

portlandon on November 6, 2012 at 5:57 PM

Speaking of our trollcott…has anyone seen gumby today?

Liam on November 6, 2012 at 5:58 PM

Billy Cunningham on Hannity: Huge lines in Republican counties – Hamilton, etc. Looking at something like an 80% turnout, far exceeding the Bush 2004 vote! Cunningham says for voters to “hold the line.” He thinks Romney will win Ohio by 5 pts! He’s lived in Ohio all his life and has never seen anything like this!

TarheelBen on November 6, 2012 at 5:53 PM

Just heard the same thing…exit polls are not our friends.

nextgen_repub on November 6, 2012 at 5:58 PM

Exit polls are worthless…see 2000. Not worth getting worked up over. Chill out and wait for the results. I believe Virginia data will be coming in early and that is one of the big states. Must win for Mitt.

ZippyZ on November 6, 2012 at 5:57 PM

I know exit polls have little predictive power. I only brought it up because I’ve been starved for data all day long after voting at 6 am.

Longing4Lincoln on November 6, 2012 at 5:58 PM

My brain is fried and so politically overloaded that the most interesting thought I came up with for this post was “gee, I wonder what the origin of the term ‘bellwether’ is?”

natasha333 on November 6, 2012 at 5:59 PM

…T R O L L C O T T …!!!

KOOLAID2 on November 6, 2012 at 6:00 PM

Exit polls are garbage. They’re worse than garbage, they always skew democrat. Every single election. Jon Fn Cary won Ohio according to exit polls.

give me a break. Oh, and Trollcott.

happytobehere on November 6, 2012 at 6:01 PM

I voted at 6AM in NJ. I also told every Dem voter I know “NJ always goes dem, stay home and stay warm, skip those long lines”..hehehehehehheh

clnurnberg on November 6, 2012 at 6:01 PM

Speaking of our trollcott…has anyone seen gumby today?

Liam on November 6, 2012 at 5:58 PM

…still busy tying all its entrails together?

KOOLAID2 on November 6, 2012 at 6:02 PM

PT Barnum:

“There’s a sucker born every minute.”

And when he said that he was referring to dumb conservative yokels.

THE FIX IS IN.

George Soros has bought all the Secretaries of State.

From Joseph Stalin:

“It’s not who votes, but who COUNTS to vote.”

technopeasant on November 6, 2012 at 6:02 PM

…T R O L L C O T T …!!!

KOOLAID2 on November 6, 2012 at 6:00 PM

Yeah, but..once we have secured a Romney win, can we start ripping the trolls to shreds?

Please, please, please?

Liam on November 6, 2012 at 6:03 PM

I turned on Fox and they immediately began flapping their gums about exit polls. I turned the TV off. I hate that crap. It is just useless and annoying. I want the real numbers.

Terrye on November 6, 2012 at 6:04 PM

Billy Cunningham on Hannity: Huge lines in Republican counties – Hamilton, etc. Looking at something like an 80% turnout, far exceeding the Bush 2004 vote! Cunningham says for voters to “hold the line.” He thinks Romney will win Ohio by 5 pts! He’s lived in Ohio all his life and has never seen anything like this!

TarheelBen on November 6, 2012 at 5:53 PM

I don’t know if my heart can take this. I’m so anxious.

buckichick1 on November 6, 2012 at 6:04 PM

…still busy tying all its entrails together?

KOOLAID2 on November 6, 2012 at 6:02 PM

He’s probably still trying to find his ass

Liam on November 6, 2012 at 6:04 PM

KOOLAID2 on November 6, 2012 at 5:53 PM

Don’t sweat it, the exit polls said Kerry was da man… until the real numbers came in.

And we know how that turned out… just press on.

Vote, add your voice to today’s grand chorus.

CPT. Charles on November 6, 2012 at 6:05 PM

The only credentials I have is that I have lived in Ohio my entire life and I absolutely believe Romney will win. Republican Buckeyes are ticked and will show up at the polls.

JannyMc on November 6, 2012 at 6:06 PM

Settle down on exit polls–the exit polls for the Walker recall here in Wisconsin said Barrett and Walker were neck and neck.

Walker won by 7 points.

Just saying.

Phoenix7 on November 6, 2012 at 6:06 PM

Yeah, but..once we have secured a Romney win, can we start ripping the trolls to shreds?

Please, please, please?

Liam on November 6, 2012 at 6:03 PM

I doubt they will still be here for the deserved mocking that will begin.

IowaWoman on November 6, 2012 at 6:06 PM

I want the real numbers.

Terrye on November 6, 2012 at 6:04 PM

Same here. I’m tired of the pundits spinning like tops.

Let’s just cut to the chase.

Cody1991 on November 6, 2012 at 6:06 PM

Flapjackmaka on November 6, 2012 at 5:51 PM

**TROLLCOTT**

Mimzey on November 6, 2012 at 6:07 PM

Drudge says Romney has a lock on more electoral votes…how he can know that I do not know.

Terrye on November 6, 2012 at 6:08 PM

My brain is fried and so politically overloaded that the most interesting thought I came up with for this post was “gee, I wonder what the origin of the term ‘bellwether’ is?”

natasha333 on November 6, 2012 at 5:59 PM

From Wikipedia: The term is derived from the Middle English bellewether and refers to the practice of placing a bell around the neck of a castrated ram (a wether) leading his flock of sheep. The movements of the flock could be noted by hearing the bell before the flock was in sight.

Connie Willis wrote an awesome book with that title.

AesopFan on November 6, 2012 at 6:08 PM

Exit polls are crap.

happytobehere on November 6, 2012 at 6:08 PM

I doubt they will still be here for the deserved mocking that will begin.

IowaWoman on November 6, 2012 at 6:06 PM

Then we mock them in absentia.

Joke ‘em if they can’t take a f**k.

Liam on November 6, 2012 at 6:09 PM

Same here. I’m tired of the pundits spinning like tops.

Let’s just cut to the chase.

Cody1991 on November 6, 2012 at 6:06 PM

Yes.

Terrye on November 6, 2012 at 6:09 PM

Obama will be laughing all the way to the bank to how stupid conservatives were to buy into the polls.

It was all predestined Obama would win tonight.

After all he is the Messiah. He will NOT be nailed to the cross tonight.

God bless the Messiah!

The big lie has prevailed.

technopeasant on November 6, 2012 at 6:09 PM

TROLLCOTT!!!!

IowaWoman on November 6, 2012 at 6:10 PM

I’m not staying up for the real totals, will see it in the AM. It’s too scary for me.

clnurnberg on November 6, 2012 at 6:10 PM

I don’t know if my heart can take this. I’m so anxious.

buckichick1 on November 6, 2012 at 6:04 PM

Go to the Greenroom and watch the NH video; it will make you feel better.

AesopFan on November 6, 2012 at 6:11 PM

Go to the Greenroom and watch the NH video; it will make you feel better.

AesopFan on November 6, 2012 at 6:11 PM

The drudgery of doom has given NH to the donks. I am getting to anxious to stand it.

clnurnberg on November 6, 2012 at 6:13 PM

Rush, Sean and Mark Levin are all on the take and is the employ of Obama.

Romney is being paid by a secret slush fund from Saudi Arabia.

Conservatives and evangelicals will not turn out for Romney. You have been all lied to that they will.

We will again see Obama’s beaming smile tonight.

Chris Matthews may have a heart attack tonight while he tingles over Obama’s winning speech tonight.

I feel a tingle myself.

Obama, the Marxist, you are the cat’s meow.

technopeasant on November 6, 2012 at 6:14 PM

He’s probably still trying to find his ass

Liam on November 6, 2012 at 6:04 PM

Shouldn’t be hard to find since he’s all ass anyway.

Oldnuke on November 6, 2012 at 6:14 PM

The drudgery of doom has given NH to the donks…

clnurnberg on November 6, 2012 at 6:13 PM

He most certainly did not. He is just leaking that the EXIT POLL shows NH going Obama’s way. Remember that the exit polls showed Kerry won Ohio and that Gov. Walker lost the recall election.

Longing4Lincoln on November 6, 2012 at 6:14 PM

Shouldn’t be hard to find since he’s all ass anyway.

Oldnuke on November 6, 2012 at 6:14 PM

gumby would mess up looking into a mirror.

Liam on November 6, 2012 at 6:15 PM

If HotAir gets me all excited, and then you let me down because Obama wins, I’m going to boycott you until I wake up from my drunken stupor.

Glenn Jericho on November 6, 2012 at 6:17 PM

Wish they would just focus on their Personaly Discovery or Western Florida Native American Women’s History homework instead.

nextgen_repub on November 6, 2012 at 5:56 PM

Studying the “Lady Parts”

kcd on November 6, 2012 at 6:19 PM

Beautifully written post, MK.

novaculus on November 6, 2012 at 6:20 PM

Ace has some good news on the exits..I think Drudge is hyping things just a tad. I know that is shocking.

Terrye on November 6, 2012 at 6:21 PM

The Gov. of Ohio is saying it looks really good for Mitt. Says he has not seen this much excitement in 30 yrs! Thats saying a lot… considering its OH.

kcd on November 6, 2012 at 6:26 PM

When someone says the President should be in 8 years because they can’t get it done in 4 it translates to: I am a partisan and I have no excuse that wouldn’t make me look bad for supporting an obviously failed President.

Have some guts lady and just say you are a liberal and hate Republicans.

Conan on November 6, 2012 at 6:32 PM

Ace has some good news on the exits..I think Drudge is hyping things just a tad. I know that is shocking.

Terrye on November 6, 2012 at 6:21 PM

The banner changed too. OH moved from O to Tossup. I can’t remember the header, but it favored O and now says Tight. I don’t think my nerves can handle Drudge tonight.

hawkdriver on November 6, 2012 at 6:32 PM

Exit polls are crap.

happytobehere on November 6, 2012 at 6:08 PM

Agree. Why am I being asked on Hotair to take one?

derft on November 6, 2012 at 6:41 PM

Lots of trolls out tonight on HA trying to discourage. Pay no attention to these creatures. They live in their mom’s basements and will have to go back to work in the “food industry” once the OFA checks dry up.

Happy Nomad on November 6, 2012 at 6:43 PM

Drudge is looking out for numero uno tonight. He can play it fast and loose for pageviews until everything tightens up late tonight without losing any cred.

I don’t blame him one bit.

tom daschle concerned on November 6, 2012 at 6:43 PM

Am I the only one noting that Romney people give the sense they’ve won and the rat-eared wonder’s people have done stuff like mocking Romney for campaigning today while sneaking Biden into Ohio? That act alone should have sealed the deal for Romney.

I’m not saying that I know anything about the outcome but I don’t think it is as close at this point as all the hype.

And BTW. FNC mentioned that the gym where the rat-eared wonder played that invitation only B-Ball game went through foreclosure last month. How fitting is that?

Happy Nomad on November 6, 2012 at 6:49 PM

And BTW. FNC mentioned that the gym where the rat-eared wonder played that invitation only B-Ball game went through foreclosure last month. How fitting is that?

Happy Nomad on November 6, 2012 at 6:49 PM

If only it was the last thing to go through foreclosure.

IlikedAUH2O on November 6, 2012 at 11:24 PM

The biggest problem of Ohio is that it is ruled by the big cities – Toledo, Cincy, Columbus, Cleveland, Akron and Canton. The populace is highly urbanized and has been sending libtards to congress with recent examples being Metzenbaum, Glenn, and now Brown. There simply are not enough votes in the rural areas to overcome the cities.

Quartermaster on November 7, 2012 at 12:50 PM