Battleground Ohio - General Assembly House District 1
District 1 in the Ohio House comprises all of Wayne County. Wayne County is a largely rural county in North East Ohio just south of the Cleveland Metro Area. The largest population center in the County is Wooster. The headquarters of Smuckers is also in this county in Orrville Ohio. This seat is held by Republican Scott Wiggam who first won the seat last year. This seat was not challenged by a Democrat over the last two cycles, although an Independent-Republican, Stephen Spoonamore, challenged last year. He is noted for his work on cyber-security and is a principle critic of Diebold and election security in general.
QUICK LOOK DISTRICT 1 ELECTION PROFILE
- Residents: 114,750
- Registered Voters 2016: 74,772
- Total Vote in 2016: 50,845
- 2016 Turnout Rate: 68%
- HD 1 Total Republican Vote 2016: 31,342
- HD 1 Total Independent-Republican Vote 2016: 15,192
- HD 1 Total Democratic Vote: 0
- Registered Voters 2014: 72,959
- Total Vote in 2014: 27,297
- Total Vote in 2014: 38%
- HD 1 Total Republican Vote 2014: 21,444
- HD 1 Total Democratic Vote 2014: 0
There are 67 precincts in this district. Ohio has closed a lot of precincts over the last many years. There were 81 precincts in this district in the 2014 election for example. Later in this post, I will take a look at the practical affect this has had. The results surprised me a touch given our perceptions about the closing of precincts and voter suppression here in the state.
Looking at Ohio election data is interesting in this district since we have not had Democrats running for the seat in the last two cycles and the one contested race was basically two Republicans going head to head. That said, let's take a look at what happened anyway.
While this race is between two Republicans basically, there is an interesting dynamic at play here worth commenting upon. The precincts are organized from left to right in terms of the smallest margin of victory for the candidate actually running as a Republican. Just as you would expect if this race were being contested by a Democrat, the challenger did best in the "city" precincts while doing steadily worse the more rural the territory.
So while it is true that these votes were all basically for Republicans, it does show a weakness of support for the brand name in the area. Not a ton of weakness mind you, but it does give you a starting point to work if you were to run in this District as a Democrat.
The next graphic shows the scale of the Republican win in each precinct more succinctly.
To get a sense of a similar race, in a similar election cycle as next year, I did decide to look at the results in the Senate District 27 race in 2014. I chose this race since it is a state seat and took place in the off-presidential year 2014 election. The commonality of election years is an important consideration here. The data below only covers the precincts in both District 1 in the House and District 27 in the Senate.
This next graphic shows the partisan vote between the Republican and the Democratic challenger compared to the total Registered voters in the district.
So looking at the scatterplot above tells us a few things. Republicans won in a landslide here, but, half of the highest density of registered voters show weaker than average support for the Republican. Being weaker than the norm in half of the largest blocks of voters is a sign of some trouble for Republicans. I don't think we can translate this into a win in the next cycle, but, if we can field a candidate we could seriously see the needle move here, which can only pay dividends for the party moving forward. It could help shore up the deficits here in things like Presidential elections for example.
THE IMPORTANCE OF RUNNING IN "RED AMERICA"
Part of the reason Republicans are so dominant in our state houses and at all levels of government really has more to do with relationships than anything. The best level to form relationships is at the local and state representative level, but in race after race, cycle after cycle, almost everyone asking for their vote below a statewide or Presidential campaign is republican. Mayors, County Commissioners, State Reps and State Senators often don't see a Democratic challenge for years, and if they do, it is not every cycle.
Electoral politics is only about expanding reach. The best way to expand reach is through relationships. By choosing not to recruit and run candidates in these districts we are missing the best opportunity to build relationships with these small communities.
The entire relationship point was driven home to me after the last election and reading story after story of reporters and Democrats interviewing "red state rural voters" as if they were some alien species, worthy of study. It was humorous in a way, well, until you remembered the consequences of our lack of relationships in far too many of these areas.
Ohio has gone pretty deep red, no doubt. When you look at the House makeup with 66 of 99 Republican seats in the House and 24 of 33 seats in the State Senate the problem is clear. We must work to rebuild connections in these communities. There are Democrats there, we need to show them they are not alone.
NOW A BIT ON THE CLOSURE OF PRECINCTS AND POTENTIAL RELATED VOTER SUPPRESSION
One of the working theories I have seen around the interwebs is the notion that Ohio is closing Democratic precincts to suppress the vote. This is a notion I tend to agree with on its face. I thought as I do these profiles district by district, I would take a look at the closed precincts to see if the data bears this out. So let's take a look.
In 2014, there were 81 precincts. 14 of them were closed for the 2016 election. Here is what I found about the precincts in question.
There were 9,561 Registered Voters in the 14 closed precincts.
To gauge the partisan impact I looked at the 2012 presidential results.
Obama got 18,439 votes in the 81 precincts. 16,628 of those votes were in precincts still open in 2016, 2,315 votes were in closed precincts. That means 12.2% of the Obama vote came from precincts closed.
Romney got 29,927 votes in the 81 precincts. 25,129 of those votes were in precincts still open in 2016 leaving 4,138 votes in closed precincts. That translates into 14.1 % of the Romney vote that came from now-closed precincts.
So, on that measure, more "harm" was done to a higher rate of Republican voters based on the closures in this District.
That is not the only way to look at this though. Romney won the district with a 21% margin of victory. When you break the margin of victory out among open v closed precincts, however, you find Romney won the closed precincts by a 28% margin, while only winning the open precincts with a 20% margin.
Given these dynamics, it is pretty clear the net effect of closing these precincts do not seem to be motivated specifically about suppressing the Democratic vote. I will keep looking at this as I profile the Republican-held districts to see if this bears out anywhere in the state. As I said above, I do tend to agree that one of the motives for closing precincts is to suppress Democratic votes. I just do not see evidence of that here in this particular district.
Let's find a great candidate for Ohio House District 1
Once we do, let's rally around them and help them in their effort to represent us in this red area!