Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose interacts with staff members as they follow the election from Ohio's election command center Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — President Donald Trump has again carried Ohio, historically a must-win state for Republicans.

No Republican has reached the White House without carrying Ohio. The last Democrat to do so was John F. Kennedy in 1960, when Richard Nixon won the state. Trump reaps Ohio's 18 electoral votes for a second time, beating Democrat former Vice President Joe Biden after his 2016 victory over Hillary Clinton, the former U.S. secretary of state.

With some 96% of the expected Ohio vote tallied Wednesday afternoon, Trump led Biden by 8 percentage points, the same margin he defeated Clinton by.

“Ohio, think of this. Ohio a tremendous state, a big state,” Trump said to an early Wednesday morning gathering of staff and supporters in the White House. “I love Ohio!”

“We are clearly a state that’s difficult for Democrats,” said U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat with a long history of winning in the state, most recently his 2018 reelection.

“Just two years ago, though, I won the state by a pretty healthy margin, 7%, and I’m not exactly a conservative hide-in-the-corner, don’t-speak-out kind of a Democrat, so I think it’s still a winnable state," Brown told reporters Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the state’s GOP-drawn congressional map remains undefeated in general elections, with all 16 incumbents winning. The Republicans have held a 12-4 majority in the state’s U.S. House delegation since the map took effect in 2012.

GOP legislators will keep “supermajorities” in the Statehouse, even after a federal bribery scandal involving their former House speaker.

But a Democrat won one of two Supreme Court positions being contested, narrowing the GOP edge to 4-3.

On the local level, of 123 public school district tax issues that were on the ballot Tuesday, voters passed 83, or about two-thirds, according to the Ohio School Boards Association. The measures approved included a levy that could help Cleveland schools dodge big cuts.

Ohio has been trending Republican in recent statewide elections. Biden, from neighboring Pennsylvania, mounted a late but strong challenge. He stepped up media spending as early voting began in October.

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, and was 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 of 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 in 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.

Several first-time female candidates challenged Republican incumbents in the U.S. House, but all fell short.

Republican Rep. Steve Chabot clinched his 13th term in Congress, defeating first-time Democratic candidate Kate Schroder, a public health professional. She 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 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 former naval flight officer.

The nation’s longest-serving woman in Congress led the way as all four of Ohio’s Democratic House incumbents won reelection. 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, won his eighth 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 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 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.

Householder’s reelection bid was unclear early Wednesday, because votes cast for four write-in candidates running against him had not yet been counted.

In the Hamilton County sheriff's race, the former head of an Ohio county jail who has filed a federal complaint saying she was terminated because she’s a woman and is gay appears to be the sheriff-elect. Democrat Charmaine McGuffey leads Republican Bruce Hoffbauer in unofficial results posted by the county elections board.


Sewell reported from Cincinnati. Contributing were Associated Press reporters Mark Gillispie in Cleveland, Andrew Welsh-Huggins and Kantele Franko 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.