Ohio primary left to decide both parties’ nominations

Jenna Staul

Ohio could play role in choosing nominees after all

Super Tuesday’s 24-state primary elections failed to deliver a conclusive front-runner for either the Republican or Democratic party, leaving many to believe Ohio’s March 4 primary is poised to be a deciding factor in the race for the White House.

Ryan Claassen, assistant political science professor, said while Ohio historically plays a crucial role in the general election, its impact in the primary is not as influential as Iowa’s and New Hampshire’s.

“Ohio is a very populous state, and we have a lot of delegates,” Claassen said. “The problem is not so much how much we count but when we get counted.”

Despite Ohio’s 88 Republican and 161 Democratic delegates, other states with smaller populations typically have decided the party nominees – largely because their primaries occur on an earlier date.

The split amongst party voters so late in the race, however, may give Ohio voters more say in which candidates get the nominations.

“I think the results were mixed,” said College Republicans President Stephen Ontko. “They were not as conclusive as I expected. McCain didn’t win every state.”

Ontko predicts Ohio may become a battleground state yet again in 2008.

“It’s influential,” Ontko said. “Ohio confirms the national mood on a particular candidate. It legitimizes a candidate.”

Alex Goepfert, Ohio Democratic Party communication director, said the March 4 primary could be historic for the state.

“Historically, the race has been over (by the time of Ohio’s primary),” Goepfert said. “Obviously that’s not the case. This year we may be in the unique position to select the nominee.”

Claassen said the indecisive nature of the election so far makes it especially important for Ohio residents to head to the polls.

“There is a lot at stake,” Claassen said. “I’m not convinced Ohio’s primary won’t be in play.”

Even if Ohio doesn’t stand to have much impact on presidential nominations, John McClellend, Ohio Republican Party communication director, said other elections will be included on the ballot.

McClellend said the other elections – often overlooked with the publicity that surrounds presidential campaigns – will attract more voters to the polls in March.

“Keep in mind that the primary election isn’t just for the presidency,” McClellend said. “There are nearly 1,000 races that will be contested this fall, and many of them will be voted on in the primary.”

College Democrats President Patrick Burke said only time will tell who the nominees will be in a race that is largely unpredictable.

“The delegate awarding is what really counts,” Burke said. “The convention is still in the summer, and some races come down to that convention.”

Burke said he hopes Ohio voters become a factor long before electoral votes are counted in the general election.

“I hear a lot of people say that the issues for Ohio are issues for the whole country,” Burke said. “I would like to see Ohio’s primary become more important. I don’t understand why it isn’t more important.”

Contact student politics reporter Jenna Staul at [email protected].