Staff Editorial- Wearing out the bellwether: the uncertain future of ohio’s swing

 The votes are in: we’ve broken our streak. 

After exactly six decades, Ohio has faltered its long-held status as the ultimate bellwether in America — and with it, indications of being a swing state in general. After we went for President Trump by more than 8 points the night of the election, the other midwestern swing states failed to follow suit. President-elect Joe Biden managed to build the blue wall that Trump built four years ago, which entails Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Ohio, in this context, appears to be the exception. 

So what does this mean for Ohioans?

Well for starters, it seems hard to imagine that this very state voted for Obama — twice. This would mean that there were a substantial amount of Obama-Trump voters. In a polarized nation like this, independent and undecided voters that have the fluidity to vote for opposing parties feel like myths. But they exist — or at least they did 4 years ago. Now what seems to be the case is that Trump was able to solidify his standing with 2016 Ohioans. In fact, he actually received a larger margin this year than he did last time. 

The future is still unpredictable. We don’t know what Ohio will do 4 years from now. It could very well be a swing state once again. But for now, it seems likely that politicians will move away from Ohio and focus their attention towards historically red states that have recently become battleground territory like Arizona, Georgia, and even Texas. 

For decades we have been a vital talking point during election season. No Republican in history has won the election without Ohio; Obama and his campaign team in 2012 believed that if they lost Ohio, they would lose the election. 

In a sense, we have been spoiled. 

High-ranking candidates make frequent rounds throughout our state — especially as election day nears — a vital time when deep red and blue states that don’t have the ability to be persuaded are left for dead. 

In short, the presidential election makes us feel important. 

A voter in this state used to feel like their choice could actually affect the results of an election — and they were often right. Now, as we saw Trump handily win Ohio with hundreds of thousands of votes, it’s hard to say if we will receive the same sort of attention we used to revel in. 

Of course, the candidates down the ballot which include important local and regional races still need our vote. But there’s nothing quite like TV news anchors breaking down your state specifically county by county on election night as the nation waits with bated breath to see which way it will go. 

Perhaps all this will be nullified in the near future. After all, there are still signs of a blue Ohio — take senator Sherrod Brown, for instance. Or maybe this is less of an indication that the voters are turning red but rather that the Democratic Party is unable to reach out to the rural areas of Ohio in ways that the GOP has. Whatever may be the case, it still seems like a big deal that Ohio has broken the longest streak of any state to accurately pick the president. 

For young voters, this could be a call to become more involved in politics and work toward bipartisanship in a divided nation that refuses to look across the aisle. 

In fact, President-elect Joe Biden has called for unity and collaboration to heal the wounds of our country. Biden knows that his message is a tall order in 2020. But Ohioans should take his words as a sign for self-improvement so that we may remain the battleground we always have been — a state proudly open to great change. At the very least, it’s exciting to be a swing state. But more importantly, our country needs us to lift ourselves out of this increasingly partian and dangerous territory — now, more than ever before.