Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

How about an Ohioan on the presidential ticket?

By Paul Sracic, Special to CNN
November 8, 2012 -- Updated 2252 GMT (0652 HKT)
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
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
Timothy Stanley says Lewinsky is shamelessly playing the victim in her affair with Bill Clinton, humiliating Hillary Clinton again and aiding her critics
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0102 GMT (0902 HKT)
Imagine being rescued from modern slavery, only to be charged with a crime, writes John Sutter
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1600 GMT (0000 HKT)
Tidal flooding used to be a relatively rare occurrence along the East Coast. Not anymore, write Melanie Fitzpatrick and Erika Spanger-Siegfried.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1135 GMT (1935 HKT)
Carol Costello says activists, writers, politicians have begun discussing their abortions. But will that new approach make a difference on an old battleground?
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1312 GMT (2112 HKT)
Sigrid Fry-Revere says the National Organ Transplant Act has caused more Americans to die waiting for an organ than died in both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1851 GMT (0251 HKT)
Crystal Wright says racist remarks like those made by black Republican actress Stacey Dash do nothing to get blacks to join the GOP
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 2207 GMT (0607 HKT)
Mel Robbins says by telling her story, Monica Lewinsky offers a lesson in confronting humiliating mistakes while keeping her head held high
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1329 GMT (2129 HKT)
Cornell Belcher says the story of the "tea party wave" in 2010 was bogus; it was an election determined by ebbing Democratic turnout
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT)
Les Abend says pilots want protocols, preparation and checklists for all contingencies; at the moment, controlling a deadly disease is out of their comfort zone
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 0336 GMT (1136 HKT)
David Weinberger says an online controversy that snowballed from a misogynist attack by gamers into a culture war is a preview of the way news is handled in a world of hashtag-fueled scandal
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1223 GMT (2023 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says Paul Krugman makes some good points in his defense of President Obama but is premature in calling him one of the most successful presidents.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 0221 GMT (1021 HKT)
Conservatives can't bash and slash government and then suddenly act surprised if government isn't there when we need it, writes Sally Kohn
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 1205 GMT (2005 HKT)
ISIS is looking to take over a good chunk of the Middle East -- if not the entire Muslim world, write Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1300 GMT (2100 HKT)
The world's response to Ebola is its own sort of tragedy, writes John Sutter
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 2033 GMT (0433 HKT)
Hidden away in Russian orphanages are thousands of children with disabilities who aren't orphans, whose harmful treatment has long been hidden from public view, writes Andrea Mazzarino
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1722 GMT (0122 HKT)
When you hear "trick or treat" this year, think "nudge," writes John Bare
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 0442 GMT (1242 HKT)
The more than 200 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls have become pawns in a larger drama, writes Richard Joseph.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1345 GMT (2145 HKT)
Peggy Drexler said Amal Alamuddin was accused of buying into the patriarchy when she changed her name to Clooney. But that was her choice.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 2043 GMT (0443 HKT)
Ford Vox says the CDC's Thomas Frieden is a good man with a stellar resume who has shown he lacks the unique talents and vision needed to confront the Ebola crisis
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 0858 GMT (1658 HKT)
How can such a numerically small force as ISIS take control of vast swathes of Syria and Iraq?
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
How big a threat do foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq pose to the West? It's a question that has been much on the mind of policymakers and commentators.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1221 GMT (2021 HKT)
More than a quarter-million American women served honorably in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Now they are home, we have an obligation to help them transition back to civilian life.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
Paul Begala says Rick Scott's deeply weird refusal to begin a debate because rival Charlie Crist had a fan under his podium spells disaster for the Florida governor--delighting Crist
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 0407 GMT (1207 HKT)
The longer we wait to engage on Ebola, the more limited our options will become, says Marco Rubio.
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 1153 GMT (1953 HKT)
Democratic candidates who run from President Obama in red states where he is unpopular are making a big mistake, says Donna Brazile
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 0429 GMT (1229 HKT)
At some 7 billion people, the world can sometimes seem like a crowded place. But if the latest estimates are to be believed, then in less than a century it is going to feel even more so -- about 50% more crowded, says Evan Fraser
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1653 GMT (0053 HKT)
Paul Callan says the Ebola situation is pointing up the need for better leadership
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 2245 GMT (0645 HKT)
Nurses are the unsung heroes of the Ebola outbreak. Yet, there are troubling signs we're failing them, says John Sutter
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 1700 GMT (0100 HKT)
Dean Obeidallah says it's a mistake to give up a business name you've invested energy in, just because of a new terrorist group
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 2301 GMT (0701 HKT)
Fear of Ebola is contagious, writes Mel Robbins; but it's time to put the disease in perspective
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1744 GMT (0144 HKT)
Oliver Kershaw says that if Big Tobacco is given monopoly of e-cigarette products, public health will suffer.
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1335 GMT (2135 HKT)
Stop thinking your job will make you happy.
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 0208 GMT (1008 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says it's time to deal with another scandal involving the Secret Service — one that leads directly into the White House.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1125 GMT (1925 HKT)
Americans who choose to fight for militant groups or support them are young and likely to be active in jihadist social media, says Peter Bergen
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 1303 GMT (2103 HKT)
Stephanie Coontz says 11 years ago only one state allowed same sex marriage. Soon, some 60% of Americans will live where gays can marry. How did attitudes change so quickly?
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 2004 GMT (0404 HKT)
Legalizing assisted suicide seems acceptable when focusing on individuals. But such laws would put many at risk of immense harm, writes Marilyn Golden.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 1307 GMT (2107 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says the issues are huge, but both parties are wrestling with problems that alienate voters
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 2250 GMT (0650 HKT)
Mel Robbins says the town's school chief was right to cancel the season, but that's just the beginning of what needs to be done
October 11, 2014 -- Updated 1543 GMT (2343 HKT)
He didn't discover that the world was round, David Perry writes. So what did he do?
ADVERTISEMENT