November 28, 2014

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Working-class whites lose voting dominance in Ohio

David Vernon, 18, takes a break while reading on his porch in Columbus. Both Republicans and Democrats are seeking voters like Vernon, a self-described moderate and an avid social media user who says he has seen a steady increase in tweets from both parties aimed at attracting younger African-American voters to get involved in political campaigns. (AP Photo)

David Vernon, 18, takes a break while reading on his porch in Columbus. Both Republicans and Democrats are seeking voters like Vernon, a self-described moderate and an avid social media user who says he has seen a steady increase in tweets from both parties aimed at attracting younger African-American voters to get involved in political campaigns. (AP Photo)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — For the first time, working-class whites make up less than half of Ohio’s eligible voters, part of a demographic shift in a key Midwestern swing state that is pushing political parties to widen their appeal beyond the once-dominant bloc.

Nationwide, working-class whites — defined as those ages 18 to 64, with less than a bachelor’s degree — are more likely to be socially conservative, less optimistic about their futures and skeptical of big government. But in Ohio, the group has been much more politically divided: encompassing deeply religious, GOP-leaning conservatives in rural areas as well as unionized blue-collar Democrats in cities.

Now, those voters are getting older, moving some of them into a 65-plus group that is more likely to back the GOP. The shift is one facet of a changing political order — and both parties say they are getting the message. The state, which a Republican National Committee panel is backing to host the 2016 GOP convention, has gone with the winning presidential candidate in every election since 1964. In 2012, President Barack Obama won Ohio by fewer than 200,000 votes out of more than 5.6 million cast.

“You can’t ignore any quarter in Ohio, it’s too balanced. If you put too much effort in one part over another, you lose,” said Greg Haas, a long-time Democratic strategist who ran Bill Clinton’s winning 1992 Ohio campaign.

About 4.1 million, or 48 percent, of eligible voters in Ohio are working-class whites, according to unpublished 2014 census data. That’s down from 50.5 percent in November 2012. As recently as 1980, that number was 66 percent.

Most of the change is because they’re aging out of the workforce: eligible white voters 65 and older in Ohio increased from 17.1 percent to 18.9 percent in 2014. In contrast, whites with at least a college degree edged up from a 17.4 percent share to 17.7 percent, and nonwhite eligible voters rose from 15.1 percent to 15.3 percent.

William H. Frey, a Brookings Institution demographer who analyzed the census data, said the narrow GOP-Democrat divide makes the shifts notable.

“Working-class whites in Ohio are not nearly as strongly Republican-leaning as those in most other states,” he said.

Nationally, that demographic broke for Republicans by about 20 points on average in recent presidential elections. But in Ohio it’s a narrower 10 points, according to exit polls.

As the working-class white vote shrinks, Ohio Democrats are working to paint themselves as the party of diversity — their 2014 statewide ticket features three white men, two white women and one black woman compared to the Republicans’ all-but-one-male, all-white line-up — and appeal to women of all economic groups. The party staged a bus tour last month through Columbus, Cleveland and Toledo, led by U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Chris Redfern, Ohio’s fiery Democratic chairman, said his party has long sought to expand outreach by hiring African-American voting coordinators around the state, which Obama won in 2012 thanks in part to strong black turnout.

“We’re investing in those communities, we’re not just paying lip service one month out of four years hoping we can turn out the vote,” he said.

State GOP Chairman Matt Borges bluntly acknowledged that Republicans have often ignored non-white voters but said they can offer moderate candidates capable of winning the support of blacks and whites alike.

“You’ve got to be in these neighborhoods talking to voters,” Borges said. “To some extent, we just have to be honest with ourselves: Over many cycles we’ve gotten away from that.”

Republican Gov. John Kasich’s campaign sometimes uses his office to highlight issues important to senior citizens — last September, he launched a statewide fall-prevention initiative — while the Republican National Committee courts a new wave of potential Ohio voters, including suburban women under 40 and young college conservatives. In April, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus addressed students at Central State University, a historically black college, during the launch of a College Republicans chapter.

The type of voters both parties seek includes David Vernon, 18, of Columbus, who will be a freshman at the University of Akron this fall. An avid user of social media who describes himself as moderate, Vernon said he has seen a steady increase in tweets from both parties aimed at attracting younger African-American voters to get involved in political campaigns.

Vernon said he appreciates the increased outreach and believes young adults like himself will be open to supporting either party this fall if candidates are forceful in addressing issues such as rising college loan debt, improving economic opportunity and ending the gridlock in Washington.

“Many young people I talk with are tired of both parties — they’re almost burned out,” he said.


  • Sis Delish

    Meanwhile, in Lorain County, Ohio, no one works and they still vote for the Party responsible for them being un-employed–regardless of what generation they sprouted from.

    On a side note, we could not identify a strange odor in the area last month. Now we know, thanks to this article what it may have been: Pelosi!

    • in2ition

      Amazing, “no one works in Lorain County”. Where oh where do you get such deep profound knowledge? There are many people that work in Lorain County so that makes you a liar, a complete freaking moron, a fool or all three. On a side note – the smell you experienced is the slow decay of a once proud, now dead elephant under your trailer.

      • Sis Delish

        Tell us how much you pay in Union Dues annually?

        After that posting, I’d ask for an increase in the benefits provided by your Union Dues. Nice Job!

        • angelfire

          My husband worked for the railroad union and he paid about $100 a month in dues. We are retired with health care and about $3800 a month.

          Bite it.

          • Sue Lawson

            It’s funny because a lot of the Conservatives that I go to church with, are in a union. Go figure.

      • todd

        This county is a ghetto. NOBODY is rushing to bring their business here. Sure people are wirking. Working more hours for less pay with two or three jobs to make ends meet. American Dream

      • golfingirl

        Lorain County has the 9th highest unemployment rate in Ohio….out of 88 counties in June 2014.

        “Profound knowledge”……No, just the facts.

        • in2ition

          Well now that’s a long way from the “profound knowledge” statement of “no one works in Lorain County” .

          • Summer Smart

            I think someone just stepped on their own toes….

          • golfingirl

            I believe it is called “hyperbole,” exaggeration for effect.

            Anyone with common sense would not have taken that comment literally.

            Please tell me, even you can’t possibly be THAT naive?

          • Starryeyes63

            I think this is a new Screen name for he who should not be mentioned………….

          • golfingirl

            Can’t be….he hasn’t brought IQ into the discussion…….yet!

          • Starryeyes63

            not yours but he has “others”….

  • angelfire

    Socialism works EVERYDAY. The American military is the most socialist entity in the USA. Cops, firefighters, teachers….anyone paid with tax dollars…hey that’s SOCIALISM.

    • SniperFire

      Capitalism includes social institutions, dope.

    • Joe Smith

      All the above and employees and earn their paychecks, in socialism you don’t have to earn it.

    • AFITgrad86

      As far as the military being “socialist” I believe I would beg to differ. That would imply there is no promotion based upon merit (which there most definitely is) and that non-productive members are tolerated which they certainly are not. Finally socialism implies a classless society which the military is definitely not. This from a 23 year veteran.

      Vis-a-vis your point concerning other bureaucratic workers (I’ll not lump first responders into this group mind you) I would say that an excessively large government workforce is more a characteristic of statism as opposed to socialism. The confusion comes from the Soviet style government which was statist (and communist) more so than socialist (which it was in the beginning).

      • John Davidson

        Does this mean that unions should be considered socialistic.

        • AFITgrad86

          Well let’s see. Do unions require promotion based on longevity as opposed to merit? Do unions protect substandard performers from termination? Hmmm …. it’s starting to seem that way.

          • Joe Smith

            Starting? Its been that way for many many years

          • AFITgrad86

            Yea … but I didn’t want to start a food fight … LOL

  • Mark B

    This article sounds Racist to me

  • alreadyfedup1

    Thank the party of INCLUSION for eliminating the middle class! The democrats want and need a dependent class so they can stay in the RULING CLASS. THAT IS WHY Lorain votes they way they do.

  • golfingirl

    Do you think that photo was staged?

    A copy of Hillary Clinton’s new book resting on his right leg.

    My guess it “just happened” to be lying around….as in the reporter gave it to him for the purpose of taking the picture.

    • Summer Smart

      I thought he was Mexican at first and it was going to lead to Columbus being one of the safe havens leading to there being more Mexicans lol

  • golfingirl

    “For the first time, working-class whites make up less than half of Ohio’s eligible voters.”

    But I bet they pay more half the income taxes.

    Problem here, is that those that pay less, if anything, will continue to vote for the party that gives them “freebies.”

    • in2ition

      Define “freebies.”

      • SniperFire

        That which sustains you, courtesy those who work for a living.

        • golfingirl

          Well said.

          Some people think entitlement money grows on trees.

          Sooner or later your run out of people to tax. That’s math, pure and simple. Isn’t this what happened to Greece?

          Everybody should have skin in the game, so that they might pay closer attention to how the nation’s money is spent.

      • BITTERCLINGER36

        Section 8= free housing
        SNAP/EBT= free food
        MEDICARE/MEDICADE/OBUMMERCARE= free medical
        HEAP=free heat
        Obamaphone=free cellular service(unnecessary for 911 calls)
        SSI disability scam after unemployment runs out=free money
        There are also numerous county welfare programs such as the subsidized (yet bankrupt) LCT, there is a cash stipend for welfare recipients, car part stipend through the county, LMHA housing.
        All of these things the laziest among us get for FREE simply by breathing, waking up, and breeding. I have seen enough to know that at least 70% of these folks are simply lazy. Human nature being what it is, if you pay someone to do nothing, they will do nothing.
        To circumvent the inevitable calls of racism, the majority of welfare recipients are white, and I still want them to provide for their own responsibilities in life and stop demanding I support their laziness and poor decision making.

        • tickmeoff

          BITTERCLINGER36. Get your head out of your Butt. . Thank the lord for your health and for your job.

          How anyone could see Social security as a a great lifestyle is beyond me. Hey genius, people get sick. people get hurt. One can only hope something bad happens to you, Working has always been better than living off the dole. in the meantime you ignore corporate welfare and the fact that there are people who are deserving of their Social Security. You are a real piece of work. I have worked my entire life, and most people want to avoid living off the dole, but if you got sick tomorrow, you would need the programs you so detest.

          Come down to earth ! AND FIND SOMETHING YOU HAVE NEVER HAD….Empathy!

          Good thing you don’t use your real name, how embarrassing it would be for you! Now climb under the rock you came from. When it comes to poor decision making….You are the Champ!

          • BITTERCLINGER36

            I thank myself for my health and my job as I am the one that puts the effort into getting and maintaining them both. I did not rely on someone from the benevolent government to give me something. I did what I had to do to win the competition for the job I have. I know that is a repulsive thought to a parasite, but that is the way most of us do it.
            Read my post again, I never said SS is a great lifestyle. The scam is when the parasites suck up 3 years of unemployment then go right to SSI disability instead of working.
            Corporate Welfare, um, never said I supported that so keep your straw man in your closet.
            While most people do avoid the dole, most of them on the dole want to be there because they do not want to work. This has been my experience, so they deserve none of my empathy. I reserve that for those truly in need.
            I have made poor decisions, sure, who hasn’t? The difference is that like most people, I learned from them and improved. Whatever poor decisions I have made, well those are my burdens to bear, I don’t/won’t demand that you pay for them.
            Thanks. I am the champ!
            BTW, tickmeoff is on your birth certificate right?

          • tickmeoff

            Glad to see you agree with me.

  • SniperFire

    Racist much, C-T?

    • todd

      What this article is saying is that Ohio continues to fall apart. Not because whites aren’t the primary voting bloc but because there are too many people collecting instead of paying in. Collectors vote for more collecting to ensure their pathetic and meager lifestyle. Meanwhile crime goes up and property values haven’t changed in OVER A DECADE. I’m embarrassed to live here

  • SniperFire

    ‘“You can’t ignore any quarter in Ohio, it’s too balanced. If you put too much effort in one part over another, you lose,” said Greg Haas, a long-time Democratic strategist’

    In other words, Democrats make it all about race, and then deny it.

  • todd

    Let’s see. County is ghetto and jobs haven’t come back with this President. He campaigned on change. Where is the change? Keep voting for blue in this county and as President and watch things continue to collapse.

    • in2ition

      Todd, your bag staplers job at the plastic toy factory is not skilled labor and it defiantly is not coming back.

  • GreatRedeemer

    I think the pic is to pump up the number of tweets on the
    dudes sight.

  • silkskin1960

    I agree….this is the C T hidden way of making a racist remark and get away with it. Shame on you Chronicle Telegram….some of us see right thru your biased opinion.

    • Julie Wallace

      You do realize it was not a locally written story, right? This is an Associated Press story that was circulated nationwide because of Ohio’s importance to the upcoming elections.

  • Reagan

    I have a question for those who say this article is racist. How or what makes it racist? I have read it three times and I must be missing the racist part.

    • Pablo Jones

      I didn’t say it was racist. But it is an article about working class voters and then breaks it down between whites and minority groups and who has the greatest political power. That brought the racial component into it.

      • Reagan

        Thank you for your reply. You make me feel better that I am not the only one who missed the racist part.

  • Pablo Jones

    The saddest thing about this whole article is that it implies that twitter can sway a young voter. If 150 letters, not words, letter can influence a young voter. How little do they know that a twit can out weigh everything they know in their decision to vote.

  • Joe Smith

    Working class period white or not loses out when the hand outs reach the 50% mark or higher

    • Mark B

      We have already surpassed the 50% mark

  • SniperFire

    The University of Wisconsin has announced that the races are genetically unequal and are setting up race based degree programs.
    .
    I would imagine they will soon install drinking fountains and cafeteria seating – based on race.

  • AFITgrad86

    I find the assertion that those with a bachelors degree (or higher) are not “working class” at odds with the idea everyone should strive for a higher education. Just because one has a degree does not make them an elite or promote them from working class – especially as working class relates to one’s values. I grew up in a working class home and was imbued with working class values which persist to this day – unaltered by my educational experience.
    Perhaps the author wanted us to conclude that somehow there are divisions which do not exist. But I find the whole idea of demographics a bit of a convenient way to label people and put them in a box. We are all individuals and are capable of making our own decisions without a newspaper, union boss, or professor dictating what our opinion should be.

  • Bob Dobbs

    I cannot explain the glee it gives me to watch everyone bicker, frantically worrying about who is “taking” from them. Can you smeeeeeelllll it?, that is the smell of fear!

    • SniperFire

      It will end in war – as it always does.

  • John Davidson

    The way the Democrats give money away the majority of voters are unemployed.

  • Tim Brookes

    This story was written for the insensitive right wing nuts by them, oh look, top and first comment, such a coincidence?

    • Sis Delish

      Did they serve Government Cheese for you in Wellington? LOL!

    • Tim Brookes

      Sure did, but that being said.
      I am not going to hide behind a fake name like others.

  • angelfire

    Perhaps working class whites are now caught up with everyone else. They may be finding out what the rest of the minorities have known for a long time. Personally I think it’s overdue that whites SHOULD walk a mile in the minorities shoes. Seems fitting.

  • Sis Delish

    A Union Poet, how touching.

    Tell us, grand wizard of empirical knowledge, why are the roads in Lorain (County) falling apart? Is it because of an overwhelmingly successful economy where more people work than sponge?

    Or, is it the fabulous level of Real Estate Tax Delinquencies you rely on to pontificate about the state of your chosen residence?

    How ’bout them educational performance ratings… evidence of a robust population influx?

    If you don’t pay Union Dues, you should. You’d make a fine rabble rouser for the Cause.

    On a final, childlike note, “Sticks and Stone may break my Bones, but it won’t create Jobs in Lorain County”!

    (for supporters of the positions held by “in2ition”, he needs your backing now more than ever)