Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

How about an Ohioan on the presidential ticket?

By Paul Sracic, Special to CNN
updated 5:52 PM EST, Thu November 8, 2012
Perhaps it is time for Sen. Rob Portman to be a presidential candidate, says Paul Sracic.
Perhaps it is time for Sen. Rob Portman to be a presidential candidate, says Paul Sracic.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Paul Sracic: Ohioans were bombarded with campaign ads and calls
  • Sracic: In the end, Ohio did not matter in Barack Obama's re-election
  • He says if there was one GOP winner in Ohio, it was probably Sen. Rob Portman
  • Sracic: Maybe it's time for Portman to be a presidential candidate in the next election

Editor's note: Paul Sracic is chairman of the department of political science at Youngstown State University in Ohio. His most recent book is "San Antonio v. Rodriguez and the Pursuit of Equal Education." Follow him on Twitter: @pasracic

(CNN) -- Finally, it's all over. I'm pretty sure that is what a lot of Ohioans are thinking. None of us has ever been through anything like this, and it was not pleasant. While we appreciated having the national spotlight on us these past few months, the price was high. It was impossible to get away from the election.

Turn on the television, and political commercials, filled with shadowy pictures and foreboding music, were everywhere. Turn off the TV and turn on a computer, and your IP address would betray that you were coming in from the Buckeye State, and more ads would appear. Try to escape into a book, and the phone would ring. Toward the end of the campaign, most of us were getting about 10 calls every day.

For all of the high-tech Internet ads and targeted robocalls (I had no idea I was on a first-name basis with so many politicians, but the calls often addressed either me or my wife directly), in the end, election day was almost comfortingly old-fashioned.

Paul Sracic
Paul Sracic

Candidates and their supporters stood outside the polling locations, usually churches or schools, handing out paper flyers hoping to persuade late deciders to support their candidates. Inside the polling stations, dedicated poll workers -- the unsung heroes of American democracy -- tried their best to adapt to complex regulations governing who among their neighbors was and was not qualified to vote.

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



Ironically, given how much money was spent here, for the second presidential race in a row, Ohio did not matter. Barack Obama could have lost Ohio and won the election. Still, Ohio, with its hefty chunk of electoral votes and predilection for voting for the eventual winner, will doubtless remain at the center of future presidential contests.

Although Ohio once again voted for the winner (a pattern that now extends to 1964), those expecting a satisfying victory of one party over the other in Ohio were disappointed. In its own gentle way, it was as if the Buckeye State, like most voters across the country on Tuesday night, was admonishing the nation to seek some sort of bipartisan consensus.

While agreeing to give Obama a second term, Ohio voters handed the president a much narrower victory than he had enjoyed four years earlier. In fact, if Mitt Romney had just done a bit better than John McCain had in Ohio, he would have won the state.

Portman: 'We've got the momentum' in Ohio
Portman on debate, Afghan withdrawal
Sen. Portman: My job is to dig deep

And Ohio voters showed their ambivalence by deciding to keep the state legislature solidly in Republican hands and to send Republicans to Congress in 12 of Ohio's 16 congressional districts. While Democrats will argue that these Republican victories are more the result of political gerrymandering than clear voter intent, Ohioans also soundly rejected a ballot measure on Tuesday that would have redistricting out of the hands of the legislature.

While pundits have emphasized the importance of the auto bailout as essentially buying the votes of Ohio auto workers and their families, the harsh headline of the Mitt Romney opinion piece that had been published in the New York Times -- "Let Detroit go Bankrupt" -- might have offended voters more than the president's actions had earned their gratitude.

Over the past few years, Republicans in Ohio have shown themselves to be quite adept at offending voters. They did very well in the state's midterm elections two years ago. After regaining total control of the Ohio government, they passed a bill restricting the collective bargaining rights of nearly all public employees -- not only teachers and other government workers, as had been the case in Wisconsin, but also police and firefighters. The bill was overwhelmingly defeated when placed on the ballot in November 2011, and the anti-Republican momentum generated by the legislation rolled into this year's presidential contest.

Somewhat surprisingly, Republicans spent almost no time in Ohio rebuilding their support. Although there was a massive GOP get-out-the-vote effort, little was done to repair the party's brand name.

One of the most obvious moves that Republicans might have made would be to place moderate and widely popular Ohio Sen. Rob Portman on the ticket in 2012, instead of the more divisive Paul Ryan.

Sixty-eight years ago, in the summer of 1944, the Republican Party nominated Ohio Gov. John Bricker to be the vice-presidential candidate alongside presidential nominee Thomas Dewey. Although the GOP ticket was crushed by FDR, it is interesting to note that Ohio was one of only 12 states carried by the Republicans. It is hard not to credit Bricker with delivering his home state. After all, Roosevelt had never before lost Ohio. Four years later, Dewey, with his new running mate, California Gov. Earl Warren, would lose the Buckeye State in an election that everyone expected him to win.

If there was one Republican winner in Ohio, it was probably Portman. As Romney's practice partner for his debate preparations, Portman played a crucial role in Romney's success during the first presidential debate, the only event over the past few months that seemed to move the polls in Romney's direction. This was actually the fourth campaign in which Portman has played this role, and some GOP insiders are probably contemplating that perhaps it is time for Portman to be a presidential candidate rather than just playing one during debate practice.

It does make some sense to have an Ohioan at the top of the ticket. After all, the one thing we can be sure of in 2016 is that, once again, all eyes will be on Ohio. But for those of us who make our home in the Buckeye State, this is something that we would rather not think about right now.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Paul Sracic.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 4:34 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
President Obama has been flexing his executive muscles lately despite Democrat's losses, writes Gloria Borger
updated 2:51 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Jeff Yang says the film industry's surrender will have lasting implications.
updated 4:13 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Newt Gingrich: No one should underestimate the historic importance of the collapse of American defenses in the Sony Pictures attack.
updated 7:55 AM EST, Wed December 10, 2014
Dean Obeidallah asks how the genuine Stephen Colbert will do, compared to "Stephen Colbert"
updated 12:34 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Some GOP politicians want drug tests for welfare recipients; Eric Liu says bailed-out execs should get equal treatment
updated 8:42 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Louis Perez: Obama introduced a long-absent element of lucidity into U.S. policy on Cuba.
updated 12:40 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
The slaughter of more than 130 children by the Pakistani Taliban may prove as pivotal to Pakistan's security policy as the 9/11 attacks were for the U.S., says Peter Bergen.
updated 11:00 AM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
The Internet is an online extension of our own neighborhoods. It's time for us to take their protection just as seriously, says Arun Vishwanath.
updated 4:54 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
Gayle Lemmon says we must speak out for the right of children to education -- and peace
updated 5:23 AM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
Russia's economic woes just seem to be getting worse. How will President Vladimir Putin respond? Frida Ghitis gives her take.
updated 1:39 AM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
Australia has generally seen itself as detached from the threat of terrorism. The hostage incident this week may change that, writes Max Barry.
updated 3:20 PM EST, Fri December 12, 2014
Thomas Maier says the trove of letters the Kennedy family has tried to guard from public view gives insight into the Kennedy legacy and the history of era.
updated 9:56 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
Will Congress reform the CIA? It's probably best not to expect much from Washington. This is not the 1970s, and the chances for substantive reform are not good.
updated 4:01 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
From superstorms to droughts, not a week goes by without a major disruption somewhere in the U.S. But with the right planning, natural disasters don't have to be devastating.
updated 9:53 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
Would you rather be sexy or smart? Carol Costello says she hates this dumb question.
updated 5:53 PM EST, Sun December 14, 2014
A story about Pope Francis allegedly saying animals can go to heaven went viral late last week. The problem is that it wasn't true. Heidi Schlumpf looks at the discussion.
updated 10:50 AM EST, Sun December 14, 2014
Democratic leaders should wake up to the reality that the party's path to electoral power runs through the streets, where part of the party's base has been marching for months, says Errol Louis
updated 4:23 PM EST, Sat December 13, 2014
David Gergen: John Brennan deserves a national salute for his efforts to put the report about the CIA in perspective
updated 9:26 AM EST, Fri December 12, 2014
Anwar Sanders says that in some ways, cops and protesters are on the same side
updated 9:39 AM EST, Thu December 11, 2014
A view by Samir Naji, a Yemeni who was accused of serving in Osama bin Laden's security detail and imprisoned for nearly 13 years without charge in Guantanamo Bay
updated 12:38 PM EST, Sun December 14, 2014
S.E. Cupp asks: How much reality do you really want in your escapist TV fare?
updated 1:28 PM EST, Thu December 11, 2014
Rip Rapson says the city's 'Grand Bargain' saved pensions and a world class art collection by pulling varied stakeholders together, setting civic priorities and thinking outside the box
updated 6:10 PM EST, Sat December 13, 2014
Glenn Schwartz says the airing of the company's embarrassing emails might wake us up to the usefulness of talking in-person instead of electronically
updated 5:33 PM EST, Fri December 12, 2014
The computer glitch that disrupted air traffic over the U.K. on Friday was a nuisance, but not dangerous, says Les Abend
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT