As all eyes in the nation (and perhaps in the world) turn towards Ohio, here is a brief snapshot on which county’s returns you should pay particular attention to:
Cuyahoga County: This county encompasses Cleveland and the surrounding suburbs. Obama needs to win this county by an impressive margin in order offset expected Romney strength in the southern part of the state. Obama won the county by 39 points four years ago. I don’t think he will be able to do as well but he needs to maintain a comfortable margin in this county.
Hamilton County: Take everything I just said about the above example and flip it. This is Cincinnati and has traditionally been the anchor for the Republican Party in presidential years. Obama won the county by about seven points last time around. Romney cannot allow this to be repeated as he needs to post numbers similar to (or probably better than) the numbers George W. Bush has. Romney will probably win this county but he needs to do quite well if he wants to offset the northern numbers for Obama. If Romney loses this county (or wins it by a slim margin), he will lose Ohio and probably the election.
Lake County: Numbers wise, this county doesn’t mean a whole lot to the grand scheme of the election. But what is interesting about this Northeast Ohio county is that it is Ohio’s presidential bellwether county. This county almost always votes with Ohio’s winning candidate and Ohio’s winning candidate tends to win the election. No Republican has ever won the White House without Ohio and only one Democrat since 1960 has won the White House without the Buckeye State. All of this translates to, if you want to know who the winner will be, look to Lake County.
For up-to-the-minute analysis on the Ohio results follow along our Ohio live blog here.