My Way Too Early Prediction for the Clinton County Presidential Results

*Note: I am aware that Donald Trump is not the nominee yet. I think it is likely at this point, especially after his performance in Tuesday’s primaries. Either way, my quick and dirty analysis would stay very, very similar. As far as Hillary is concerned, she is basically the nominee at this point, so I am writing about her specifically.

2008 and 2012 Results

The first thing I did was look at the results of the 2008 and 2012 primary and general election results for the county. In 2008, Democrats had a larger-than-normal turnout in the primary with 5,296 voters taking a Dem ballot. Republicans still had more ballots cast, with 5,963 voting in the Republican primary. This is closer than normal, and from a distance could look like a good sign for the Democratic presidential candidate in the general election. Barack Obama, however, was beaten 64-34 by John McCain in the county. Why was this? My theory is that the Republican party had no really competitive local contests. The County Commissioners races were uncontested, and the contested races were mostly for state judge or party representatives. On the Democratic side, along with a heated presidential race with two candidates trying to make history (Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama), there was a state senate race that featured Joy Brubaker and Bill Horne, who were fairly well known in Clinton County.

2012 was an entirely different story in the primaries, but with a similar result in the general election. Rick Santorum. who had a wide base among evangelical, socially conservative Christians (a staple of Clinton County politics), had the most votes in the Republican presidential primary. Over 6,500 people voted in the Republican primary, an increase of 500 in 2008. This primary also featured candidates for US Senate and many candidates for county commissioner. In the Democratic primary, only 741 people voted, likely because there was an incumbent president (Obama) and no real local races. In the general election, Mitt Romney doubled Obama’s votes in Clinton County, beating him 66-32.

What does this mean for 2016?

It is hard to say, in part because both parties will likely nominate candidates that are wildly unpopular in the opposing party. This could drive a #NeverHillary campaign to join the #NeverTrump campaign, creating a situation where people are voting against a certain candidate as much as they are for a certain candidate. The numbers show Republicans winning Clinton County by large margins, even as the state has gone blue in the last two presidential elections. How does this bode for Trump? He had almost as many votes in the Republican primary as Romney and Santorum combined in 2012, so it is clear that he has significant support in the county (especially places other the the city of Wilmington). He did not, however, get a majority of the votes in the Republican primary. With Kasich and Cruz, who took 51% of the county together, going more anti-Trump by the day, one wonders if some of those voters will follow. Hillary Clinton was relatively popular in 2008, posting a Clinton County primary win over then-Senator Obama, but was beaten by Bernie Sanders in the primary this year.

I could see Trump winning Clinton County by around 25 points, judging from past performance by Republican candidates and judging from him being around the same place in statewide general election polls as McCain and Romney lost by. Clinton County fits Trump’s demographic well: hit hard by the recession; overwhelmingly white; and rural. Clinton should do well in the city, where many of the county’s Democrats live, but will still probably lose by some margin. This will be an interesting campaign to watch in terms of how each candidates policies would affect those in Clinton County, and it is certainly a race we will be following here at the Wilmington Bulletin.

2016 Primary Preview for Clinton County

With the Ohio primary elections quickly approaching, here is a quick preview of some select races that have been closely followed in Clinton County.

County Commissioner-Open Seat

Running: Greg Grove, Terry Habermehl, Scott Holmer, Mike McCarty, and Brenda Woods

This race has been closely followed by many in the county, in part because of the number of people running and their ties across the county. All five candidates have been pushing hard throughout the county and attempting to separate their message from the message of their competitors. Driving through the county, you can see signs for all five candidates everywhere. I believe that there will be a geographic slant to this race, with certain candidates winning areas where they either live or work due to name recognition. Many are championing Mrs. Woods and Mr. Habermehl for their experience in government, while the others have been touted for their records in business or elsewhere. This race will likely come down to who voters believe has the best plans for the two main issues that have defined this race: the sales tax rolloff and the “hospital money.”

County Commissioner-Kerry Steed’s seat

Running: James Fife and Kerry Steed

Support for these two men has been fairly split. Steed is running heavily off of his experience as a commissioner, saying that he stuck to his campaign promises from the 2012 election. Mr. Fife has said that he will bring his experience working for a state agency (ODOT) as well as his experience as a Union Township Trustee to work on cost-saving measures. It appears that this race will be very close on election day, much like the other race.

Republican Presidential Primary

Running: John Kasich, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Donald J. Trump

In what has quickly devolved into a race that some speculate may drastically change the GOP, four candidates have stayed in until Ohio (from over a dozen). Kasich, the current governor of Ohio, is certainly the biggest challenger to Trump’s success. He is currently polling ahead of or tied with Trump in Ohio, perhaps in part to Mr. Rubio’s campaign encouraging voters to support Kasich as the best chance to stop Trump in this winner-take-all state.

Clinton County’s demographics point to Trump potentially taking the county because of the heavy influence of “blue-collar” jobs and large population of Evangelical Christians. Kasich’s appearances in Wilmington should help him, and his balancing of the budget in Ohio (albeit controversially) will appeal to the pragmatic side of Clinton County voters. The other candidates running will certainly have their supporters in Clinton County, but it is almost certainly a race between Kasich and Trump.

Democratic Presidential Primary

Running: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders

The Democratic primary has had fewer candidates and fewer direct jabs between the candidate, but the debates have not been lacking in substance and the campaign speeches have still been passionate. So what does this mean for Ohio and Clinton County? Mrs. Clinton is leading Sanders in polling, leading anywhere from single digits through twenty-five points. Sanders could have a decent showing in the county due to his strength among working-class, white voters (with whom Mrs. Clinton did very well in 2008). This race is difficult to predict for the county, due to many Democrats choosing instead to vote in the Republican primary because of the commissioner’s race.

 

Make sure to get out and vote on Tuesday, no matter what party. For information about where you should vote (and to make sure you are registered), check out the Clinton County Board of Elections website.