In 2016, President Donald Trump won Ohio against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in part thanks to voters who backed former President Barack Obama twice but refused to support Clinton.
The Trump campaign has already spent a considerable amount of money on defending the state in 2020, but new polling appears to show some Democrats rethinking their standing in the Buckeye State.
According to a recent Fox News poll, the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee Joe Biden has surged past Trump in Ohio. Other polls paint a similar picture, suggesting that the race may indeed be competitive.
Pointing to Sen. Sherrod Brown’s 2018 victory over former GOP Rep. James Renacci, Democratic strategist Aaron Pickrell said that Ohio is “within reach.”
“People look at 2016 and they think that somehow Ohio became a totally red state… but I think the Biden campaign should spend here. We’re surrounded by two other battlegrounds in Michigan and Pennsylvania, and the same messaging applies,” Pickrell said.
Republicans are not concerned yet. A GOP operative who has worked in Ohio conceded that the president’s standing in the state is currently far from ideal, but noted that once voters have a choice between Trump and a Democrat, they will pick Trump.
“But the factor that has not yet emerged is the choice between Trump and a Democrat, and I’m confident that once the choice presents itself in the fall, Ohio and other states where the president succeeded last time will turn around for his campaign,” the operative said.
According to recent polling, Trump’s approval is higher in Ohio than nationally, largely thanks to the fact that the president has a strong base in the state. Rural voters and white voters without a college degree overwhelmingly back Trump over Biden, but the Democrat is much stronger in the suburbs.
In a statement, Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said that the president “will win Ohio, but we will not make Hillary Clinton’s 2016 mistake and take states for granted.”
According to Josh Schwerin, a strategist for the Democratic super PAC Priorities USA, the fact that the Trump campaign is investing money in a state like Ohio shows that his team is “on defense.” However, Schwerin noted that his organization will not spend money in the Buckeye State.
According to reports, Trump and his allies are alarmed by Biden’s standing in key states. Earlier this week, the president reportedly held an emergency meeting with his top advisers.