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Got it wrong: Long considered the bellwether county in Ohio presidential politics, Stark voters got it wrong during this election.
President Barack Obama, who won Ohio by 2 percentage points according to unofficial final votes from the election, lost by 0.36 of a percent in Stark.
Without provisional and outstanding absentee ballots counted, Obama, a Democrat, got 50.18 percent of Ohio’s vote to 48.18 percent for Republican Mitt Romney.
The new bellwether county in Ohio is Sandusky with 49.78 percent for Obama, 0.4 of a percent different from his statewide figure, to 47.85 percent for Romney, only 0.33 of a percent less than his statewide percentage.
A close second to Sandusky County is Montgomery County. In that county, Obama got 50.73 percent of the vote, 0.55 of a percent different from his Ohio vote. Romney’s 47.66 percent in Montgomery was 0.52 of a percent less than his state percentage.
In my Aug. 17 column, I wrote about the myth that a Republican presidential candidate needs to get at least 40 percent of the vote in the heavily-Democratic counties of Mahoning and Trumbull to win Ohio, a key battleground state.
The last Republican to break 40 percent was Ronald Reagan in 1984.
Since then, Republicans have won three presidential elections without at least 40 percent of the vote in Mahoning and Trumbull counties. With this election, Republicans have lost four presidential races without that magic 40 percent.
Going back decades, Democratic presidential candidates — and Democrats in most races — can count on the two counties to strongly support them.
And that’s exactly what Mahoning and Trumbull counties did for President Barack Obama, a Democrat, in this election.
Unofficial final vote totals — this still doesn’t include provisional and absentee ballots not yet counted — show Obama beat Republican Mitt Romney by 107,241 votes in Ohio.
The president’s margin of victory over Romney in Mahoning was 32,634 votes. It was 21,901 in Trumbull.
If you add the two together, Obama received 54,535 more votes in the two counties than Romney. That’s 50.9 percent of the president’s margin of victory.
Of course, that’s somewhat deceptive.
For example, Obama beat Romney by 236,478 votes in Cuyahoga County.
Obama would have won Ohio without the strong support he received in Mahoning and Trumbull counties.
But the strong wins in the Valley certainly helped him off-set big losses to Romney in other parts of the state.
In terms of population, Mahoning is the state’s 10th largest, but Obama’s margin of victory was the fifth largest among Ohio’s 88 counties.
Trumbull is the 13th most-populous county in the state, and the president’s margin of victory was sixth among all counties in Ohio.
Obama beat Romney by 2 percentage points in Ohio.
He crushed Romney by 27.7 percent in Mahoning, and by 22.2 percent in Trumbull.
Based on past elections, those percentages will certainly increase when provisional ballots are counted.
Like every Republican presidential candidate since 1988, even those who’ve won Ohio, Romney failed to hit 40 percent in either county.
Romney received 35.5 percent of Mahoning’s vote and 38 percent of Trumbull’s vote.
Once provisional ballots are counted, those numbers will decrease for the failed Republican presidential candidate.
This occurred with declines in turnout in the Valley compared to 2008.
Turnout in Mahoning County was 70.1 percent for this election compared to 72.3 percent four years ago.
In Trumbull, turnout was 65.8 in 2012 compared to 72.7 percent in 2008.
Voter turnout numbers will increase once provisional ballots are counted.
While campaigns rarely run smoothly — and there were issues with how Obama’s team handled the Valley — the final results are all that matter.