COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Republican President Donald Trump has again won Ohio, a traditional bellwether for the nation.
Democrat Joe Biden mounted a vigorous challenge to Trump for the state’s 18 electoral votes, but fell short. Meanwhile, the state's U.S. House incumbents again swept to victory in districts drawn for their elective safety.
The former vice president stepped up media spending as early voting began in October, even as Trump’s campaign pulled back on some spending in the state. Trump won a decisive 8-percentage-point victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016.
No one has been elected president without carrying Ohio since 1960, and no Republican has ever been elected without Ohio.
The AP VoteCast survey found that 3 in 5 Ohio voters said the U.S. is on the wrong track, while 2 in 5 said the nation is headed in the right direction. The survey included 3,767 voters and 700 nonvoters in Ohio, conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.
About half of Ohio voters think the coronavirus is not at all under control in this country. The state is among those experiencing new increases in cases and deaths.
Secretary State Frank LaRose touted Ohio’s response to a variety of glitches and other incidents on Election Day as the state set voter turnout records.
The day began with an issue when election officials at Franklin County, the state’s most populous, made the decision to shift to paper pollbooks system-wide to check-in voters when officials were unable to fully upload voter data into the electronic versions. The decision led to an increase in wait times for voters but did not appear to impact the actual vote count, according to LaRose’s office.
At an American Legion Post in the Cleveland suburb of Parma, carpet installer Joe Gall, 44, said he voted for Trump, after voting for Clinton four years ago. Gall said he's made more money this year than he has ever had, and he thinks the country has handled the pandemic as best it could.
“No one knows what to do,” he said. “It’s as good as it could be given the situation with everything shutting down and people afraid to go out.”
Lisa Factora-Borchers, 41, a writer from the Columbus suburb of Worthington, said she voted in person Tuesday to ensure her vote for Biden was counted, and spent more time walking to her polling place than inside it.
“I consider Donald Trump the biggest threat to democracy and to the future of this country,” Factora-Borchers said, adding that she was voting against Trump as "a matter of human decency.”
Elections officials had reported record early turnout during the pandemic, with polls forecasting a toss-up presidential race.
Democrats thought they had opportunities to cut into a 12-4 Republican advantage in the U.S. House delegation, but their candidates were unable to overcome the GOP-controlled redistricting that took hold in 2012. While a three-judge federal panel in Cincinnati found in 2019 that the districts were drawn unfairly, the U.S. Supreme Court subsequently decided that gerrymandering issues were matters for the states.
Republican Rep. Steve Chabot clinched his 13th term in Congress, defeating first-time Democratic candidate Kate Schroder. Schroder, a public health professional, had been seen by Democrats as their best shot for finally flipping a House seat in the last election before Census-triggered redistricting. However, Chabot's strength in the GOP-dominated Warren County that became part of his district in the remap helped carry him through.
Republican Rep. Troy Balderson, first elected in 2018, held his central Ohio seat against Democrat Alaina Shearer, like Schroder a first-time candidate. Republican Rep. Mike Turner of Dayton won his 10th term, defeating first-time Democratic candidate Desiree Tims. Four-term Republican Rep. Dave Joyce was reelected after facing a spirited challenge in northeast Ohio from Democrat Hillary O’Connor Mueri, a first-time candidate and and former naval flight officer.
The nation’s longest-serving woman in Congress led the way as all four of Ohio’s Democratic House incumbents handily won reelection in unofficial returns. Rep. Marcy Kaptur won her 19th term from northern Ohio, Rep. Marcia Fudge her sixth from the Cleveland area, Rep. Tim Ryan his fifth from the Youngstown area, and Rep. Joyce Beatty her fourth from the Columbus area.
On the Republican side, Rep. Jim Jordan, a fiery conservative supporter of Trump in Congress, won his 8th term from northwest-central Ohio, and Rep. Warren Davidson, who succeeded former House Speaker John Boehner in his western Ohio district by winning a 2016 special election, won his third full term. Rep. Brad Wenstrup, who served in the Iraq War as a combat surgeon, won a fifth term from southern Ohio. Former Ohio State University football player Anthony Gonzalez won his second term in northeast Ohio.
Veteran Reps. Steve Stivers, Bob Gibbs, Bill Johnson and Bob Latta also won reelection.
Democrat Jennifer Brunner has defeated incumbent Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judi French in one of two contested races on the state high court. Republican Justice Sharon Kennedy turned back Democrat John O'Donnell to leave the GOP with a 4-3 majority on the state's highest court.
Brunner is a state appeals court judge and a former Ohio Secretary of State. She made an unsuccessful run for U.S. Senate in 2010. French, a former assistant Ohio attorney general, was running for her second full six-year term on the court. French won election in 2014 after being appointed to the court a year earlier.
Republicans retained their supermajorities in both chambers of Ohio’s Legislature despite a federal bribery scandal involving the former speaker, Larry Householder.
The outcome gives the GOP enough votes to override a governor’s vetoes and to more easily place constitutional amendments before voters.
The result came despite Democrats’ hopes that strong candidates and national momentum would help them cut into GOP legislative majorities.
Householder’s reelection bid was unclear early Wednesday, since votes cast for four write-in candidates running against him had not yet been counted.
Sewell reported from Cincinnati. Contributing to this report were Associated Press reporters Mark Gillispie in Cleveland, Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus, John Seewer in Toledo and Farnoush Amiri, a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Find AP’s full election coverage at APNews.com/Election2020.