Stark Realities: Ohio County With History of Picking Presidential Winners Could Go Against GrainAired March 6, 2000 - 5:38 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: New polls show George W. Bush and Al Gore with huge leads in Ohio, which offers the third biggest delegate prize in tomorrow's pivotal round of primaries. But might one part of the state with a history of picking winners go against the grain?
CNN's Bill Delaney traveled to Stark County to find out.
BILL DELANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As for the matter of electing presidents, Stark County, Ohio is the heart of the matter, having voted as the nation voted in every election for the past 30 years, except when Jimmy Carter won in 1976; a bellwether, a bit urban, a bit suburban, a bit rural, a place with a kind of genius for being not unusual, which is the beauty of the place to Shane Jackson, chief deputy clerk of courts in the town of Massillon.
SHANE JACKSON, DEPUTY CLERK OF COURTS: So it's a nice mix, you know? The people, for the most part, are good people and it has a strong sense of community. You've got a close to an even mix of Republicans and Democrats, and a lot of Independents.
DELANEY: In Tuesday's primary, Vice President Al Gore is expected to easily defeat Bill Bradley on the Democratic side. It's the Republican race where Stark's independent streak could kick in. It's a county, after all, that in '92 and '96 voted much bigger numbers for insurgent Ross Perot than the rest of the country did. This year, many are tantalized by -- guess who.
JACKSON: John McCain. There's a strong support for John McCain, I think. There are Republicans and Democrats and Independents, and I have a couple of friends who aren't political who didn't plan on voting but they've really been taken with John McCain.
DELANEY: The sort of thing, of course, heard in a lot of places this primary season. The sort of thing also shadowed in a lot of places by what's also a reality in Stark.
JACKSON: Bush will beat McCain in Stark County.
DELANEY: Huh? Well, whatever enthusiasm McCain's generated among new or usually unenthusiastic voters, they will likely be outvoted by Stark County's enthusiastic and well-organized Republican establishment for Bush.
(on camera): As for reading the political tea leaves here in Stark County for next November, a betting man might conclude, don't bet on it -- not yet anyway. With no one issue dominant here, no war, no economic crisis, no one vision of the future, no one candidate is dominant either.
(voice-over): Deputy clerk Jackson says he wouldn't dare predict the winner of a Gore-Bush match-up this fall in Stark. He will predict some will be turned off by it.
JACKSON: Friends I talk to who support McCain, you know, aren't real enthusiastic about Bush and aren't real enthusiastic about Gore. And just as quickly as they entered politics and voting for the first time, I think they'll leave just as quickly.
DELANEY: What will be interesting to see: whether in this scenario, too, as Stark goes, so goes the nation.
Bill Delaney, CNN, Massillon, Ohio.
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