Checking the Bellwether Forecast

For those who have followed politics over the years, you might be familiar with the famous phrase “as goes Ohio, so goes the nation.” For those who are not, it is a reference to the presidential elections. Ohio is considered a bellwether state, which means that whoever wins the popular vote in Ohio will win the general election nationwide. Generally this maxim has held true. Since 1896, only twice has a candidate won Ohio but lost the election. However, since 1964, no candidate has won the presidency without capturing Ohio. Although Ohio does possess a significant number of electoral votes, 20 at the present, sheer numbers alone do not account for this trend. Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York, Florida, Texas, and the massive California all outrank Ohio in population and thus electoral votes. None of these states match the consistency with which Ohio sides with the winner. Something else must be at work here. Saving that particular reasoning for another day, nevertheless, for this election, winning Ohio is not as nearly important as it has been in the past. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the winner of one state will determine this election. Which is it? Why, our very own, Virginia.

If you are like me, you scan the polls every couple of days to see how the national trends are going. As usual, most states are not battlegrounds. Unless some sort of meltdown occurs, Obama will win California, New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts, to name a few, while McCain will win Texas and a vast majority of rest of the south. Virginia is different this time. Rasmussen Reports has had Virginia in the “toss up” column since June. But Joshua, you might say, no Democratic Presidential Candidate has won here since 1964, what makes you think Virginia can go Democratic? Consider recent trends. We’ve had two back-to-back Democrat governors now and we have one (soon to be two) Democratic Senator(s). Even the state senate has fallen. As is typical, I would expect that northern Virginia and most of the cities in the state (with the exception of Virginia Beach) will go to Obama while the counties and rural areas will go to McCain. The battle lines are clearly drawn. The real trick will be to see which side mobilizes their supporters more effectively and in greater number. Who will win Virginia? With a month still to go, I cannot say. But I can say that the McCain camp desperately needs to win Virginia as his Republican counterparts have done in the past. Although Virginia will almost certainly predict the winner, I can foresee the possibility of Obama losing Virginia and still winning the election. For McCain, however, I do not honestly believe he can win without us. I don’t believe that any other swing state can make that claim. Therefore, if you wish to know the outcome of the Presidential election, you only need to feel the pulse of our own commonwealth.

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