Our view: Ohio: the forgotten one

Once upon a time, a little state no one paid much mind to changed the course of history. You see, this little state became one of two attributed with the election of a highly controversial president, not once, but twice.

So naturally, this state was ignored in the next election.

Wait a second, let’s backtrack.

Ohio’s contested results in the 2004 election make it a prime battleground for this round of presidential jousting. Areas like Cleveland, Akron and Youngstown have lost industry to downsizing and outsourcing, placing Ohio cities on national lists with the most poverty and homicides. Ohio agriculture tops the nation in egg, pumpkin and flower production, amounting to a total of 12 million acres of crops harvested in 2005.

So you would think, with the role the state played in the election, the prominence of agriculture and the number of easily talkable issues here, candidates would be fighting to win the support of Ohio’s voters.

But something funny happened when some of the other states moved up their primary elections. For one thing, the Democratic National Committee punished Michigan and Florida for holding primaries before Feb. 5 without permission by revoking all of their delegates to the nominating convention in August.

But more importantly for Ohio, the candidate may already be decided before the primary March 4, according to a Plain Dealer report published Sunday. The Democratic candidate needs 2,025 delegates to win the nomination; the Republican candidate needs 1,191. On Super (Duper) Tuesday (Feb. 5), when 20 states vote, 1,678 Democratic and 1,038 Republican delegates will be decided.

Add that to the rest of the states that will have voted by the Ohio primary, and more than 50 percent of the nation’s delegates from both parties will already be pledged by the time we vote.

All this means that both parties’ candidates may already be chosen.

Unlike Florida, which was also pivotal in the last two presidential elections, Ohio at least has delegates to send to the convention. But there’s an argument to be made that their votes may not really matter.

We’re by no means telling you not to vote in the primary. Even though Ohio votes may not affect the outcome of the nominating process, candidates will certainly be paying attention to how Ohio voters cast their ballots and which campaigns seem to be working best. Whoever wins the nomination will need that information to try to win Ohio in the general election.

But it’s unfortunate that a state that warrants so much attention may be ultimately disenfranchised in the primary election. The battle for moderate and undecided voters is decided in the primary, because these voters are less likely to vote in general if their primary candidate fares poorly.

So how does this chapter in our little state’s history end? There’s no doubt that both parties’ candidates will beg on their knees for Ohio’s votes, but this quarter of the game may be a little more quiet.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.