The Road to the White House Goes Through Cincinnati

Photograph by Luke Sharrett/The New York Times via Redux

A Barack Obama campaign event at the Music Hall in Cincinnati.

A handful of states are going to determine who wins the 2012 presidential election. And among those 10 or so battleground states are 50 counties that will determine which way those states “swing.”

In the first of our series, “Bellwethers: A 50-County Election,” Bloomberg’s Matthew Dowd explains why Hamilton is one of those counties.

Located in the southwest corner of Ohio on the border with Kentucky, the county has both a Midwestern and a Southern feel. Home to Cincinnati, the state’s third-most-populous city, the county backed former President George W. Bush in 2004, but it flipped to President Barack Obama’s win column in 2008, thanks in part to a strong turnout by black voters. The county is about 26 percent black, according to a July Census estimate.

Dowd, who served as a campaign polling adviser for Bush, predicts that whoever wins the county will win the state — and the 2012 election.

Obama carried Hamilton by 53 percent to 46 percent four years ago, which was a six-point shift from Democratic Senator John Kerry’s 2004 showing. It was also the biggest shift among the 13 Ohio counties that cast at least 100,000 votes in the 2008 election. Obama’s strength there helped him win Ohio by 5 percentage points.

The voters in Hamilton County have already had a big dose of the campaigns, with both Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney running thousands of ads.

Obama ads ran 973 times and Romney spots aired 722 times on Cincinnati television stations in the 14-day period ended July 23, according to New York-based Kantar Media’s CMAG, which tracks advertising.

What do you think about this article? Comment below!