There’s plenty of data on Ohio elections, but it’s often not organized beyond contest, candidate and year. But now there’s a website that’s taken 150 years of Ohio election results to make that data more understandable, more useful, and to some, even more fascinating than it already is.
Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler reports.
The state and the 88 county boards of elections track election results, as do big media outlets. But there was no single resource that reporters, academics, political junkies and history nerds could access to track trends and see what voters did where and when.
“There was no place that combined them all so that you could look at races over a period of time and see what was happening in the different media markets, the different regions and even in the different counties.”
Mike Dawson is a longtime Republican strategist and consultant, and was a top aide to both Gov. George Voinovich and US Sen. Mike DeWine. He’s also been gathering and organizing Ohio election data for years, and has re-packaged it all for his website ohioelectionresults.com. While the data goes back to the 1850s, the site features detailed lists, maps and graphs of results of races for president, governor and US Senator in Ohio starting in the 1960s. And presenting the numbers and percentages in these new ways reveals somewhat surprising information. For instance, there have been 14 elections for governor since 1958, when the governor’s term was stretched from two years to four years. And Dawson says those races usually aren’t close. 10 were decided by more than 10%, and five races were 20-point blowouts.
“That’s one of the things about putting the statistics side by side – you see things that you wouldn’t see if you think about them on an individual basis. You start to see trends like that.”
The graphs also show how dramatic the dropoff is in voter turnout in presidential and non-presidential years, and Dawson says that has benefited GOP candidates.
“In the last ten presidential races, Republicans in Ohio have won five times, Democrats have won five times. In the last ten governor’s races, Republicans have won seven, Democrats have only won three – which means that more Republicans are coming out in those gubernatorial years.”
A couple of other interesting facts from ohioelectionresults.com – the number of voters in the 2004 presidential race jumped by a million over the previous presidential contest four years before. But only about a half a million more votes were cast in the 2010 governor’s race than were a half a century earlier in 1958. Southeast Ohio switches back and forth in presidential contests more than any other region. And no candidate for governor has ever won all 88 Ohio counties, though two US Senators did – Dawson’s former boss George Voinovich and Democrat John Glenn.