Real Clear Politics has a series of posts examining key swing states and they recently featured Ohio, which became the tipping point state in the 2004 election.
Highlights of the analysis include a great collection of maps and some interesting info:
Since 1960, it has voted with the winning party in every cycle. That’s 11 in a row. Plus, Ohio’s popular vote has tracked closely with the national popular vote. Over those 11 presidential elections, Ohio’s vote has deviated from the national vote by a scant 2%.
What To Watch in the Buckeye State
(1) If the national vote is close, expect Ohio to be close. It’s a bellwether.
(2) Watch the mid-sized cities. They tend to vote with the winner. If Canton, Dayton, Springfield, and metro Toldeo go for the same candidate – he’ll have the edge.
(3) Watch Franklin County (Columbus). If recent history is any guide, it will go for Obama. The question is by how much.
(4) Watch the exurbs. Obama promises to appeal to Republicans. These Republicans here are probably his best bet. McCain should still win the exurban counties of Cincinnati and Columbus, but Obama will be in good shape if he can turn them pink.
(5) Watch the eastern border. There are lots of “working class whites” here, the ones Obama had trouble with in the primaries. But it’s not the strong Democrats he needs to worry about. It’s the swing voters. If they vote McCain, these counties will be a lighter shade of blue than what Obama needs.
(6) Watch the south. It voted heavily for Clinton in the primary, and there are good reasons to expect it to support McCain. The bigger the margins, the better for the GOP.
(7) Watch Hamilton County (Cincinnati). Obama promises game-changing GOTV efforts. If he delivers, the first sign of success should be here. Traditionally, Hamilton County votes Republican, but just barely (and by steadily decreasing margins over the years). If Obama amplifies African American turnout enough to flip it, that’s a sign that his plan’s on track.