Opinion: Ohio’s role in the presidential primaries and beyond


Andrew Ohl is a junior history major and columnist for The Kent Stater. 

Andrew Ohl Kent State College Democrats

Editor’s Note: In the March 10 edition of The Kent Stater, The Stater incorrectly tagged Andrew Ohl’s column entitled “Ohio’s role in the presidential primaries and beyond” with Jared Strubel’s byline. We regret the error.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was primed to win the Ohio Democratic presidential primary on March 15. Statewide polls in recent weeks have Clinton ahead of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders by as much as 15 to 20 percentage points. Then again, not a single poll in the state of Michigan leading into the Democratic primary on Tuesday had Clinton leading by any less than 5 points, with most indicating a 20-point lead over Sanders.

On Tuesday, Sanders upset Clinton in Michigan by a vote of 50 percent to 48 percent. The victory for Sanders may very well be the exception that proves the “rule” of Clinton’s likelihood to win the Democratic nomination for President. However, the significance of Sanders’ upset cannot be understated given the predictions from the polls and pundits. At this point, who’s to say that the polls in Ohio aren’t also missing something?

In Ohio, Sanders needs his share of its 143 pledged delegates, as Clinton still holds a commanding lead in delegates over Sanders, 1,221 to 571. Clinton has  performed well nationally in the primaries, but most of her victories have come in southern states that the Democratic Party does not—repeat, not—have any chance of winning anytime soon in the Electoral College. Thus it may be possible to overstate the value of Clinton performing strong in the former confederacy, especially at a time when the GOP’s frontrunner is identifying closely with that region’s historical tendencies. By contrast,  Sanders has won 57 percent of the vote so far in states outside the south.

Despite this, it is more probable than not that Clinton will secure the nomination. It is nevertheless important for Democratic voters to continue supporting both Clinton and Sanders, as the two remain engaged in a marathon. Be it Clinton or Sanders that wins the nomination, it is of utmost importance for everyone to rally around the nominee to combat increasingly frightening forces in American society. Put simply: We need to deny right-wing authoritarianism a seat in the White House.

The need to build a viable, selfless coalition to stop demagogues such as Donald Trump has been demonstrated elsewhere. In the 2002 French elections for President, Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader of the extreme right-wing National Front party, was denied the presidency once moderates, less-than-extreme conservatives, and socialists formed a so-called “republican front” and turned out to vote for moderate candidate Jacques Chirac. For socialists in particular, their participation in the coalition was begrudging-yet-pragmatic, as many of them actually voted with clothespins in their pockets, indicating that they were willing to “hold their nose” for the moderate Chirac.

Here in the United States, we will need to build a similar coalition, although the participation of the GOP in such an alliance seems equivocal up to now. They appear to be having a tough time coping with the logical conclusion of their own rhetoric, as the ideology of prejudice, bigotry, and dangerously fanatic national superiority tends to reap what it sows. With GOP voters turning out in (marginally) higher numbers in the swing states of Iowa and New Hampshire during the primaries, and with Trump’s own victory in Michigan showing his growing support from disillusioned blue-collar voters in Democratic “rust belt” states, it is crucial for us to rally here in Ohio and save the better angels of our nature, both as individuals and as a nation.

The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the College Democrats as an organization.