As polls began closing in states at 7pm EST (1am BST), Americans started a long night of inevitable doomscrolling, refreshing state-by-state election results as they trickled in. The Associated Press quickly announced that Donald Trump won Kentucky and Joe Biden won Vermont, but neither of these results were exactly surprising: Vermont has gone blue since 1992, and Trump won Kentucky with 62.5% of the vote in 2016. Other states, from Florida to Michigan, have caused much more fervent refreshing, with anchors and political pundits still struggling to project clear winners. One of the most hotly contested states is Ohio — and its ultimate results could predict the future of the US.
Here’s why: Since 1960, no candidate has won the presidential election without winning Ohio. Usually, the margin is pretty close; in 2008, for example, Barack Obama beat out John McCain with 51.5% of the vote, and four years later, he won reelection with 50.7%. But Trump’s 2016 victory in the swing state was a big deal, and seemed to seal his fate. With a steep 8%-point lead over Hillary Clinton, Trump nabbed Ohio’s 18 electoral votes. His Electoral College victory, of course, led to… well, where we are now.
In 2016, a total of nine counties flipped from Obama to Trump. If Biden can win the support of some of these, it could bode well for him — but one is particularly important. Ottawa County, a northern area near Toledo, always votes with the state and the country. Home to the city of Port Clinton and 12 townships, Ottawa County has voted for the winning candidate every year since 1912, with only three exceptions in the ’90s. As of now, only about half of the county’s votes have been reported.
Biden has been polling better than Clinton did, though. CBS News reported that Biden has an edge over Trump among multiple demographics that Clinton didn’t win, including white voters without college degrees. Further, an October Quinnipiac University poll placed Biden over Trump by a narrow 1%.
According to an AP VoteCast study, 3 out of 5 Ohio voters feel that America is “on the wrong track” under Trump. Half of the study’s participants said they felt dissatisfied with America’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ohio is one of the states that has seen recent spikes in cases: On 24th October and then, again, on 30th October, Ohio reached new record numbers of positive COVID-19 results.
We don’t have any conclusive results yet, and with unprecedented amounts of mail-in ballots, states across America will still be processing votes into the week. While some states require that ballots must arrive by Election Day in order to be counted, Ohio will take all votes into consideration as long as they postmarked on or before Election Day and arrive in the mail by 16th November.
But what's important to remember here is that Ohio isn't happy with how Trump has handled the mess that's been 2020 — and historically, as Ohio goes, so does the nation. If all goes well, the state's votes will send the same message.