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Ohio: Gerrymandering 1, Obama Coattails 0

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With only four Democratic U.S. Representatives elected from Ohio in 2012, the Buckeye State is sending the smallest number and percentage of allies of a newly-elected president to D.C. in state history

ohioseal10.jpgOhio's congressional races made a lot of headlines throughout the 2012 cycle.

After the new census, reapportionment resulted in the state losing two seats and seeing its delegation dwindle for the fifth consecutive decade down to 16 districts.

This resulted in various incumbent-on-incumbent matchups in the primary and general elections, causing one of the delegation's high profile members, former Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, to speculate he may bolt to run from the State of Washington instead. (Kucinich would ultimately lose in the 9th CD primary to Marcy Kaptur).

And then there were frequent allegations of gerrymandering when the Republican-controlled legislature drew the new 16 congressional districts, which included a thin, snake-like Democratic-heavy 9th CD that stretched from Toledo in the northwest nearly all the way to Cleveland in the northeast.

(An anti-gerrymandering ballot initiative, to create a 12-person citizen commission to draw congressional and state legislative district lines, was defeated by more than 25 points on Election Day).

All the while, the state was the premiere battleground in the presidential race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

What was the end result of all this madness?

A Smart Politics analysis finds that Ohioans will be sending the lowest number (four) and percentage (25 percent) of U.S. House members from the party of a newly elected president in the Buckeye State across the 47 presidential election cycles since the birth of the modern two-party system in 1828.

Overall, an average of 62 percent of Ohio U.S. Representatives were elected from the same party as the winning presidential candidate, including at least half in 36 of these 47 cycles since 1828.

However, despite Barack Obama winning a majority of the vote statewide, Ohio Democrats only carried four of 16 newly-drawn U.S. House seats, or 25 percent, winning the 3rd (Joyce Beatty), 9th (Marcy Kaptur), 11th (Martha Fudge), and 13th (Tim Ryan) congressional districts.

That sets a new low-water mark in the state, dropping below the Election of 1944 when just six of 23 Democrats won U.S. House seats (26.1 percent) as Franklin Roosevelt was elected to a fourth term.

During that cycle, however, Ohio cast its electoral votes for Republican Thomas Dewey - one of just eight cycles since 1828 in which it did not vote for the winning presidential candidate (along with 1836, 1844, 1848, 1856, 1884, 1892, 1960).

In fact, five of the 10 previous cycles in which Ohio sent less than half of its representatives to D.C. from the party of the winning presidential candidate took place in cycles in which the state backed the losing presidential nominee:

· 1836: voting for Whig William Harrison and electing just 8 of 19 Democrats (42.1 percent)
· 1848: voting for Democrat Lewis Cass and 8 of 21 Whigs (38.1 percent)
· 1856: voting for Republican John Fremont and 8 of 21 Democrats (38.1 percent)
· 1944: voting for Republican Thomas Dewey and 6 of 23 Democrats (26.1 percent)
· 1960: voting for Republican Richard Nixon and 7 of 16 Democrats (30.4 percent)

In addition to 2012, the state also elected less than half of its U.S. House delegation to the winning presidential candidate's party in 1964 (41.7 percent), 1976 (43.5 percent), 1984 (47.6 percent), 1988 (47.6 percent), and 1996 (42.1 percent).

In 1920, Ohio voted Republicans into office in 100 percent of its 22 congressional districts as native Ohioan Warren Harding was elected president.

The Buckeye State also eclipsed the 90 percent mark in 1904 (electing 20 of 21 Republicans, 95.2 percent) and 1936 (22 of 24 Democrats, 91.7 percent).

It should be noted that in the 14 contested congressional districts in 2012, Republican candidates did win a majority of the vote.

Republican U.S. House candidates won 2.31 million votes (51.6 percent) compared to 2.06 million for Democrats (46.1 percent), and a shade over 100K for third parties (2.3 percent).

Speaker of the House John Boehner in the 8th CD and Democrat Marcia Fudge in the 11th CD ran unopposed.

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Remains of the Data

No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

Political Crumbs

Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


An Idaho Six Pack

Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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