Election 2008

Ohio Race Closely Watched

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Ohio primary voters head to the polls next Tuesday in a race that could help determine the Democratic party's nominee. Mark Naymik, political reporter at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, gives Renee Montagne a preview of the electoral landscape in the Buckeye state.


And now to Ohio, the other big prize in Tuesday's balloting. As the candidates head into a weekend of campaigning, we're going to take a few minutes to check in on the race there. Mark Naymik is our guide. He's a political reporter for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and joins us now on the line. Good morning.

Mr. MARK NAYMIK (Reporter, Cleveland Plain Dealer): Good morning, Renee.

MONTAGNE: Let's start with the Republicans. Does Senator John McCain face any real challenge in Ohio?

Mr. NAYMIK: The only challenge he faces is probably being noticed at the moment. He's not been around too much. There are some of those robo-calls being made by former Republican Gubernatorial Candidate on his behalf. He was here on Tuesday during Super - or I mean during our debate time trying to get a little bit of attention, but right now I think he's laying low.

MONTAGNE: And what - because he just figures he's got it sewed up?

Mr. NAYMIK: Yeah, I mean Huckabee was here as well on Tuesday, but the two of them aren't trading any words. I think McCain's stops, and he was in Cleveland area as well as downstate, was really mostly about the Democratic side. He talked a little bit about Obama and looking at his experience. They talked about the war, as you've seen before, a little bit of a preview of what we'll see in the general election if Barack Obama is the candidate.

MONTAGNE: And so, about that, that's a hotter race obviously. How are the demographics there in Ohio affecting the Democratic race?

Mr. NAYMIK: Right now the demographics of Ohio seem to have favored Hillary Clinton. We're a state that is a little bit older than the national average. We're a little whiter and we - something we're not proud of, have fewer college educated folks and leading up till this point, those demographics have favored Senator Clinton. But we have seen with Obama as time goes on, he is - seems to have been catching her on that. Both are spending a lot of time on the airwaves where one of the few primaries that where we've had about three weeks of time for both candidates to run ads and we're seeing the polls, I think reflect that.


Mr. NAYMIK: Obama is spending maybe two to one right now over Hillary Clinton on the air and that seems to be making a difference in the polls.

MONTAGNE: And I gather there's a rural-urban split there in Ohio. Explain that to us.

Mr. NAYMIK: Yeah, Ohio, you know, we - you go in the southern part of Ohio, you really are in the foothills of Appalachia and our current Democratic governor, Ted Strickland, who has endorsed Hillary Clinton, has been campaigning a bit down in those rural areas where he grew up. And then, there's not a lot of delegates down there, but they certainly can't ignore them. She just finished a three day trip in Appalachia. And right now, even Obama's wife, Michelle, is heading in the southern Ohio for this weekend and Bill Clinton, who, you know, won a lot of those votes in the '92 and '96 elections playing off his experience in Arkansas and his upbringing, they're really trying to work that area and that is a bit unusual when you have five major urban centers in a state where candidates really want to stack up votes.

MONTAGNE: Well, just very briefly, Mark, some political analysts say that it's not enough for Hillary Clinton to win in Iowa, that she has to win big. How likely is it she'll do that?

Mr. NAYMIK: You know, the polls have her only around a nine to 11 - seven to 11 points ahead and that will be difficult, I can see in at least the Cleveland area which is the most delegate rich of the state, you have a lot of support for Obama among, you know, precinct leaders, council people and that will be reflected in the vote. I mean it - I think it's gonna be very close.

MONTAGNE: Thanks very much for joining us.

Mr. NAYMIK: Thank you.

MONTAGNE: Mark Naymik is a political reporter for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

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