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
July 13, 2014 -- Updated 1245 GMT (2045 HKT)
To prevent war with North Korea over a comedy, what would Dennis Rodman say to Kim Jong Un? Movie critic Gene Seymour weighs in.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1315 GMT (2115 HKT)
Michael Werz says in light of the spying cases, U.S. is seen as a paranoid society that can't tell friends from foes.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
Eric Liu explains why in his new book, he calls himself "Chinese American" -- without a hyphen.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1512 GMT (2312 HKT)
John Bare says hands-on learning can make a difference in motivating students to acquire STEM skills.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1320 GMT (2120 HKT)
Karl Alexander and Linda Olson find blacks and whites live in urban poverty with similar backgrounds, but white privilege wins out as they grow older.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1620 GMT (0020 HKT)
Frida Ghitis says a poll of 14 Muslim-majority nations show people are increasingly opposed to extremism.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1828 GMT (0228 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says spending more on immigation enforcement isn't going to stop the flow of people seeking refuge in the U.S.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 2048 GMT (0448 HKT)
Faisal Gill had top security clearance and worked for the Department of Homeland Security. That's why it was a complete shock to learn the NSA had him under surveillance.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1841 GMT (0241 HKT)
Kevin Sabet says the scientific verdict is that marijuana can be dangerous, and Colorado should be a warning to states contemplating legalizing pot.
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 2047 GMT (0447 HKT)
World War I ushered in an era of chemical weapons use that inflicted agonizing injury and death. Its lethal legacy lingers into conflicts today, Paul Schulte says
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1137 GMT (1937 HKT)
Tom Foley and Ben Zimmer say Detroit's recent bankruptcy draws attention to a festering problem in America -- cities big and small are failing to keep up with change.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1201 GMT (2001 HKT)
Mel Robbins says many people think there's "something suspicious" about Leanna Harris. But there are other interpretations of her behavior
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 1753 GMT (0153 HKT)
Amy Bass says Germany's rout of Brazil on its home turf was brutal, but in defeat the Brazilian fans' respect for the victors showed why soccer is called 'the beautiful game'
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 2107 GMT (0507 HKT)
Aaron Carroll explains how vaccines can prevent illnesses like measles, which are on the rise
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 0008 GMT (0808 HKT)
Aaron Miller says if you think the ongoing escalation between Israel and Hamas over Gaza will force a moment of truth, better think again
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 1903 GMT (0303 HKT)
Norman Matloff says a secret wage theft pact between Google, Apple and others highlights ethics problems in Silicon Valley.
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 2237 GMT (0637 HKT)
The mother of murdered Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khder cries as she meets Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, West Bank on July 7, 2014.
Naseem Tuffaha says the killing of Israeli teenagers has rightly brought the world's condemnation, but Palestinian victims like his cousin's slain son have been largely reduced to faceless, nameless statistics.
ADVERTISEMENT