Ohio Goes Blue, Disappoints Romney Supporters

Ohio was supposed to be the pivotal battleground state for both presidential candidates until it wasn't. The vote in Ohio was squeaky close. But still many would argue it didn't decide the election.

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For weeks, months - make that years - the conventional wisdom has been that the presidential election would all come down to Ohio, and Ohio would be very close. Well, that was partially right. Ohio was very close, but as NPR's Tamara Keith reports, not as pivotal as predicted.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Jack Shumate(ph) flew into Ohio last Thursday from Dallas, Texas. He came here because this was the place where he felt he could really make a difference for his candidate, Mitt Romney.

JACK SHUMATE: Been knocking on doors and making phone calls, those phone calls that nobody likes to get.

KEITH: In the upscale Columbus suburb of Bexley, Celeste Gamble(ph) was on the receiving end of a lot of those phone calls.

CELESTE GAMBLE: Sunday afternoon, in a four-hour period, our phone rang 10 times.

KEITH: And it wasn't just the calls. There were the TV ads, the radio ads, seemingly endless candidate rallies and Facebook. Gamble says her feed got so political charged, she had to hide some of her friends.

GAMBLE: I posted this on Facebook today that I hope that - you know, go vote, no matter who you're voting for, go vote. And, you know, when this is all said and done, get behind the president we elect. And I hope people can do that. So, we'll see.

KEITH: On the Ohio State University campus, students lined up, sometimes waiting nearly two hours to vote. Jesse Jackson came through, closely followed by the school mascot. Former Ohio governor, Democrat Ted Strickland was also there, encouraging voters to stick around. His prediction: It would be a late night, or maybe morning. Not for a minute, though, did Ohio's former governor consider that this state's electoral votes wouldn't be pivotal.

TED STRICKLAND: No candidate, no political party can ever take Ohio for granted.

KEITH: State Attorney General Mike DeWine, a Republican, said essentially the same thing.

MIKE DEWINE: We're a microcosm of the country. And so when the country is divided, as it is today, as closely as it is today, you would naturally see Ohio divided the same way.

KEITH: And so after tens of millions of dollars, thousands of phone calls and door knocks, the vote in Ohio was squeaky close. But still, many would argue, it didn't decide the election. They'll point to Iowa, Nevada, Colorado and New Hampshire as more critical this time around. And that volunteer from Texas, Jack Shumate, who came all the way here to help his candidate, he still thinks he came to the right place.

SHUMATE: If you've been watching the news tonight, nobody called the election until they called Ohio. Ohio matters a lot.

KEITH: After all - and I'm pretty sure you can say this one right along with me - no Republican has won the White House without winning Ohio. And that was true last night, too. So it's pretty safe to say that when the next presidential season comes around, Ohio voters will once again be very popular. Tamara Keith, NPR News, Columbus.

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