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How this crucial midwestern battleground state shifted from purple to red

President Biden made history in the 2020 election – and it was not just for being the oldest person ever elected to the White House. 

Biden became the first candidate in 60 years to win a presidential election without carrying the crucial Midwestern state of Ohio.

Ohio, long a key general election battleground, was the state that put then-President George W. Bush over the top in the 2004 election. Bush’s narrow victory in the Buckeye State gave the Republican incumbent another four years in the White House.

Former President Obama carried Ohio by five points in 2008 and three points in 2012, as the state’s reputation as a general election swing state was upheld. However, former President Trump appeared to change the equation, with convincingly eight-point victories in the state in 2016 and 2020.

WHAT’S BEHIND GEORGIA’S TRANSFORMATION FROM RELIABLY RED STATE TO TOP BATTLEGROUND?

Donald Trump

Former President Trump speaks during a rally at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in Delaware, Ohio, on Saturday, April 23, 2022. (Eli Hiller/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Longtime Sen. Sherrod Brown’s 2018 victory was the last time a Democrat won statewide in Ohio. GOP Gov. Mike DeWine won re-election last year by a 25-point landslide. Additionally, veteran Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, despite running a near flawless campaign, was defeated by Republican Senate nominee and first-time candidate JD Vance by six points. 

HOW RON DESANTIS AND FLORIDA REPUBLICANS TOOK CONTROL OF THE SUNSHINE STATE

Fast-forward to the 2024 election cycle, and Senate Republicans view Ohio as a top target, as they aim to oust Brown, who is seeking a fourth six-year term in the chamber.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, speaks to reporters in the Senate subway on his way to a vote at the U.S. Capitol March 14, 2023 in Washington, D.C.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, speaks to reporters in the Senate subway on his way to a vote at the U.S. Capitol on March 14, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“There is still some Democratic support in Ohio, but clearly it is a state that is trending in a Republican direction,” Ohio based political scientist Paul Beck told Fox News.

Beck, a professor emeritus of political science at Ohio State University, pointed to the current state of play between the two major parties in the Buckeye State and highlighted that the “Republican Party has much more money that the Democrats do. They have a much stronger bench than the Democrats do.”

HOW THIS ONETIME SWING STATE IN AMERICA’S HEARTLAND TURNED BRIGHT RED

So what happened to turn Ohio from purple to red?

Beck spotlighted two key areas where the GOP made major gains. 

“White males in particular in northeastern Ohio – the old industrial heartland area – kind of soured on the Democratic Party. Part of it is culture wars, but part of it is a feeling that the Democrats stood by while jobs were being outsourced. Not that the Republicans have been any better, but it’s the Democrats who were in charge during that period,” Beck said.

Beck said that “the other area that has gone heavily Republican and heavily for Trump is the Appalachian area of Ohio. That used to be a strongly Democratic area, old coal country. But that has changed as well and when you put those two things together, it’s what’s giving the Republicans their edge.”

Looking at the “deterioration of Democratic support in rural areas and small towns in Ohio, Beck said that “they’re trying to recover that but without much success.”

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