Stark County: Bellwether for this year's election?

7:23 PM, Oct 12, 2012   |    comments
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STARK COUNTY -- Voters here have been on the winning side of all but one presidential election since 1980.

That's what's known as being a bellwether county, and Stark County earned the reputation by voting for the eventual winner seven of the last 8 elections.

"I think Stark County's a good predictor and I think the way Stark County goes there's real chance the whole state goes that way and the nation will end up that way," says Tom Wilson, one of many voters who cast early ballots at the Stark County Board of Elections on Friday.

About 260,000 people are registered to vote in Stark County, and they're a pretty good cross section of the United States overall. Their final votes are usually within a couple percentage points of the national outcome.

"A lot of the people here in Stark County do still vote Democratic," observes early voter Chuck McDaniel, who added that he did not necessarily vote that way.

He noted "a lot of union activity, a lot of union support" in Stark County, in addition to an historically strong and active Republican base and, more recently, large number of independents.

Elizabeth-Burton Jones, a Canton native and current graduate student at Georgetown University, took a train all the way from Washington, DC, Thursday night so she could vote early, in person, in her home county

"I was born and raised in Canton," she told WKYC, "and I feel Canton is a swing city. We have Ohio as a swing state and Canton's the swing city."

Officials at the Stark County Board of Elections says early voting has been active, with several hundred people on average casting ballots daily at the downtown location. In addition, the Board has received requests for mail ballots from 35,000 voters.

Miami University student Taylor McDaniel bypassed the mail voting process and came in person to the Board of Elections on Friday.  She watched Thursday evening's vice presidential debate and said it solidified her vote for the Romney-Ryan ticket.

"I thought Paul Ryan handled his questions very well and I thought his points on the issue were very valid and thoughtful," she observed.

Wilson, who supports the reelection of the President, watched the same debate and was equally confirmed in his point of view. "I thought Joe Biden did well and reinforced the issues I'm concerned about," he said.

But the longtime Massillon resident could not predict whether Stark County would retain its bellweather status in 2012.

"Hmm, that's a tough question," he mused, after casting an early ballot with his son, "but if I was to talk about my instinct, I would say the race is very close."


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