Skip to main content
The Web    CNN.com      Powered by
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
SERVICES
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
SEARCH
Web CNN.com
powered by Yahoo!
Inside Politics

Ohio: A microcosm of the U.S.

By CNN's Richard Quest

story.fair.jpg
The economy is a talking point at the Lorain County Fair.
SPECIAL REPORT
Follow Richard's political adventure at  American Quest
YOUR SAY
E-mail us: Send your comments and questions to Richard Quest at: americanquest@cnn.com
Read a selection of  your e-mails,  and Richard's responses
RELATED
SPECIAL REPORT
• The Candidates: Bush | Kerry

WELLINGTON, Ohio (CNN) -- It has been said many times, but repetition does not diminish its importance. In the race for the White House, the state of Ohio has taken on an importance quite out of proportion.

Only a visit to the state really underscores why this is so, and why with its 20 electoral votes, Ohio will define who wins the presidential election.

The reason is Ohio is a microcosm of the entire United States.

The major newspaper, The Plain Dealer, has called it "The Five Ohios," with differing economies and politics.

The northeast for instance, which includes Cleveland, and where the voters traditionally turn democrat.

The Southwest, which is deeply conservative and traditionally votes republican.

And in between, a huge farming belt (where church and family are strong), a desperately poor Appalachia region with the highest concentration of Veterans in the U.S., and a central region which is suburbia personified.

This is America writ small.

My week in Ohio has started in the northeast and in Cleveland.

Interestingly only last week fresh figures from the U.S. government showed it to be the poorest city in America.

More than 30 percent are living below the poverty line here, and the city bristles with abandoned buildings, shops that are closed and an unemployment rate at 10.9 percent.

So it's not surprising that here I have found the economy and the loss of jobs to be the key election issue.

More than 200,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost in Ohio in the past four years.

Hence the battle against outsourcing abroad (what Lou Dobbs calls Exporting America) is in full flood in Ohio. And just about everyone you speak to has a story of woe.

About 30 miles from Cleveland I visited the Lorain County Fair on its final day. A large agricultural show which also had stock-car racing, demolition derbies and motorcross battles. It was a perfect place hear the stories.

"Everybody is hurting" the man at Sam's Sausage Cart told me. "Jobs are really thin right now. Nobody's got one." It was a refrain I was to hear again and again.

For those in Ohio, used to relatively high-paying, secure jobs, this is a new world.

Sitting outside the children's animal house, a lady gave me her deep concern about jobs going overseas.

She was from the generation where you could graduate from high school and get a good paying factory job. "Those jobs have all gone" she noted.

Now, at first blush, you might have reasonably thought these people would blame the president and the government for these job losses.

Not a bit of it. In a conservative part of the state many were sticking true to Mr. Bush and blaming overseas nations for taking the jobs.

They are also worried about changing presidents in mid term when the country is still involved in the War in Iraq.

"I am going to vote for President Bush" was repeated again and again.

"He may not be the greatest but he's the best we've got right now."

And that proves to be the problem for the democrats in attracting support.

Because if they can't attract support in Ohio at a time when by general agreement things are not doing very well, then gathering support elsewhere will prove to be even more difficult.


Story Tools
Subscribe to Time for $1.99 cover
Top Stories
Panel: Spy agencies in dark about threats
Top Stories
CNN/Money: Security alert issued for 40 million credit cards
Search JobsMORE OPTIONS


 

International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise With Us About Us
SEARCH
   The Web    CNN.com     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser.
CNN.com does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.
Add RSS headlines.