Path to White House victory runs through Hamilton County - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

Path to White House victory runs through Hamilton Co., FOX19 analysis shows

© FOX19 downloaded more than a decade's worth of voting data for our analysis. © FOX19 downloaded more than a decade's worth of voting data for our analysis.

Pres. Obama appeared in Ohio Wednesday for the third time in a month underscoring how important the state is for his re-election chances.

He appeared in Mansfield, a town in between Columbus and Cleveland. It's an area of Ohio used to seeing presidents and their challengers.

But this year, expect them to come further south more often.

Political observers say the path to victory in Ohio --- and the White House --- runs through Hamilton County.

A FOX19 investigation shows why: The number of Republican voters in Hamilton County fell by 27 percent between 2000 and 2012 while the number of Democrats surged 213 percent from 2000 to 2008, the last time Democrats had a contested primary.

In the past, this area was viewed as a lock for Republicans.

FOX19 downloaded election data from the Ohio Secretary of State's Office and crunched the numbers ourselves to get a balanced view of what's happening in Hamilton County.

Both campaigns know how important the Cincinnati area is to their chances, too.

Pres. Obama appeared at a town hall meeting inside Music Hall a couple of weeks ago. And Gov. Romney spoke to voters at an event in Carthage on June 14th.

There, he criticized Pres. Obama's record on job creation and the soaring national debt.

"You want four more years of that? You call that 'Forward?' That's forward over a cliff," Gov. Romney told the crowd, while getting in a reference to the Obama campaign's new slogan.

John Green, a professor at the University of Akron who studies the political leanings of Ohio's varied regions, believes Hamilton County is getting a lot of attention from the campaigns so early because "1) Romney needs to secure the Republican base; and 2) the Republican campaign is much better funded than in 2008, largely because of the activities of the Super PACs," he wrote in an e-mail.

Gov. Romney may still be trying to secure the Republican base but Pres. Obama also has his work cut-out for him here, according to Prof. Judith Trent at the University of Cincinnati. She has researched voter attitudes in every election since 1988.

Trent believes incumbency cuts both ways for Pres. Obama, who's been in office during one of the worst economies in modern history.

"Some people credit Pres. Obama with beginning to turn the economy around, beginning to deal with some of these problems," she said. "And others say he hasn't done a darn thing!"

This tension over whether to give credit to Pres. Obama because jobs are reappearing in Ohio or blame him for not doing more to boost employment is evident in a new poll released today by Quinnipiac University.

46% of Ohio voters believe Pres. Obama would do a better job with the economy over the next four years while 45% have more confidence in Gov. Romney.

Overall, the pollsters found, Pres. Obama has a 50%-44% lead over Gov. Romney in Ohio when voters are asked who they'll back in November.

Today in Mansfield, Pres. Obama tried to blame Republicans for some of the roadblocks to the change that he and his supporters envisioned four years ago.

"The problem we've got right now is our politics," he said, "the sort of uncompromising view."

Whether voters in Hamilton County place the blame on Republicans remains to be seen.

In the end, who people here vote for will likely come down to these questions from Prof. Trent:

"For you, has Obama been a good president? Are things better for you?" she asked. "I mean, that's eventually how people make some determination."

And now we have less than 100 days to make up our minds.

Copyright 2012 WXIX. All rights reserved.

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U.S. Census Data: In 2011, Hamilton County is estimated to have had a population of 800,362. Ohio estimate is 11.5 million people. In 2000, Hamilton County had 845,303 people. Ohio had 11.35 million More>>

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