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As the kids like to say nowadays, Chris Redfern had swag.
A mere 12 or so hours removed from Barack’s Obama’s crowning win in the pivotal Buckeye state, the head of the Ohio Democratic Party was basking in the glow of the Democratic victory during a Nov. 7 news conference.
While Obama’s victory in Ohio was a big win for Democrats, Republicans had won their share of down ballot races maintaining overwhelming majorities among Ohio’s congressional delegation, at the Statehouse as well as on the Ohio Supreme Court.
But Redfern would hear none of it, saying he laughs when he hears his Republican counterpart, GOP Chief Bob Bennett, call Ohio a "centrist-right" state as he is frequently quoted as saying.
"Ohio today is not a centrist-right state," said Redfern. "Barack Obama won this state for the second time and becomes, I believe, only the second Democrat in the last 75 years to win Ohio twice with more than 50 percent of the vote. There is nothing center-right about that."
Setting aside the debatable question of whether Ohio is center-right or not, Redfern’s statement about the historic majority of Obama’s back-to-back wins in Ohio was intriguing. Did it really place Obama in such rarified Democratic air?
While the digging for Politifact usually involves asking the source for citations to back it up, we knew right where to find the official record for this—the Ohio Secretary of State’s office where historical data on elections is kept.
The records on Secretary of State Jon Husted’s website show that Obama unofficially has been credited with receiving 50.2 percent of the vote against Mitt Romney, and received 51.5 percent of the vote in 2008 against Republican John McCain. So as Redfern has crowed, Obama did achieve a majority in two elections in a row.
Before Obama this year, the last Democrat to win Ohio twice in a run for president was Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996. But while winning Ohio twice on his way to eight years in the White House, Clinton only managed 47.4 percent of the vote in 1996 and 40.2 percent in 1992.
As you may recall, the 1992 election was a spirited three-way race with George Bush Sr. getting 38.3 percent of the vote and independent H. Ross Perot grabbing 21 percent in Ohio.
Democratic president Jimmy Carter narrowly carried Ohio in 1976 by 11,000 votes on his way to a victory over Gerald Ford but lost it in 1980 by a landslide to Ronald Reagan. Democratic president Lyndon Johnson won Ohio in 1968, but was only on the ballot once as the presidential candidate as was the case with Democrat Harry Truman in 1948.
In 1944, Democrat Franklin Roosevelt lost Ohio to Thomas Dewey by 12,000 but still won the presidency, but in 1940 Roosevelt did knock off Wendell Willkie in Ohio by a healthy margin. That was 72 years ago and the last time prior to Obama’s victory Nov. 6 that a Democrat got a second presidential win in Ohio by a majority..
Roosevelt’s first win with more than 50 percent came in 1936, 76 years ago. That’s when he beat Kansas Gov. Alf Landon by roughly 600,000 votes, easily a majority in Ohio. (He carried Ohio in 1932 but didn't quite reach 50 percent of the vote.)
So what are we left with here as we turn back from the history books?
Following Obama’s win in Ohio on Nov. 6, Democratic Party Chief Chris Redfern argued that Ohio was not a "centrist-right" state despite that characterization by Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett.
To make his argument, Redfern said Obama was only the Democrat to twice carry Ohio with a majority in the last 75 years.
It turns out Redfern is right. Franklin Roosevelt was the last Democrat to carry Ohio twice with a majority, which he did in 1936 and 1940. And his second win did fall within the last 75 years.
On the Truth-O-Meter, Redfern’s claim rates True.
Secretary of State Jon Husted’s website, election results page
Ohio Capital Blog, Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern’s news conference, Nov. 7, 2012
Online atlas of U.S. Presidential Election Results
Federal archive of Electoral College results
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