What's life like in a swing state?
October 22, 2012 9:25 AM   Subscribe

Ohioans: with the election approaching, what is it like to be living in Ohio right now?

I'm from/live in New York, so I hardly have any idea of what it's like to be on the receiving end of the multi-million dollar ad buys coming from each campaign.

I'd like to get some first hand accounts from those of you currently living in Ohio, that generally touch on the following:

1. How many different ways have you been contacted by each campaign (if you are an independent voter)?

2. Is the campaign a major talking point between you and your friends/neighbors/family? Do you sense a strong regional interest in the election (relative to other states that you've lived in)?

posted by lobbyist to Law & Government (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've lived in Ohio for 16 years.

1. I'm not an independent voter, I'm a registered Democrat. However, that doesn't stop the Republican campaign from calling and mailing stuff. We get, on average, 12-15 phone calls per day. I answer each and every one and most of them are from the Republican campaign or right-leaning organizations. About once a day we get a call from Move On or other Democratic organizations asking us to volunteer. We already do, and I tell them that, but they keep calling, even when I ask to be removed from their call list. If I was an independent, it would annoy me more than it already does now, which might make me vote a different way. As it is, I'm a committed Democrat.

2. It's a major talking point with friends and some family. I don't talk about it with my neighbors, mostly because I just don't talk about stuff like this with them, but also because we live in a primarily Republican area. I lived in Indiana previously and I definitely feel like there's more interest here than there was there. Half of my family is Republican, the other half Democrats. I pretty much avoid talking with the right-leaning family at all during election time. It's just better for familial relations that way.

One thing that's pretty obvious to me is that Ohioans generally get quite tired of all the attention we're paid during elections. It wouldn't be so bad if we weren't ignored in-between elections, but we pretty much are. We're also fairly tired of being made fun of by people on the coasts, who consider us "fly over" territory. That's offensive.
posted by cooker girl at 9:33 AM on October 22, 2012

I live in Columbus, Ohio, and major campaign stops do tend to mess with traffic. I couldn't leave my office for a couple hours because Biden was next door.

I haven't received many phone calls from the campaign, but I do get a political flyer in the mail about every day. I get quite a few polling phone calls, a couple a week. I don't talk with anyone about politics more than I usually do. I haven't noticed the huge ad buys because I don't watch much live TV.
posted by demiurge at 9:38 AM on October 22, 2012

I used to live in Ohio (during the last election the answers were 1) many many phone calls and many many fliers and several door to door visits and 2) lots of people talk about it; I generally avoided such talk).

What I've noticed this time, though, is that Obama has lots and lots of ads on Pandora aimed at Ohio voters (I haven't changed my zip code there, evidently).
posted by dpx.mfx at 9:41 AM on October 22, 2012

I live in Ohio. I hate to be that guy, but I don't have a TV, so I have hardly seen any ads. I don't really listen to commercial radio, either, and I don't have a landline, so no phone calls.

What I have seen are a lot more online ads this year, especially in Google Reader. Most of them are for senator Sherrod Brown. Actually, they're not so much pro-Brown as Anti-Josh Mandell, his Republican opponent. I also see a few pro-Mandell ads in my RSS feed, so it's sometimes hard to even tell at first glance whether it's a pro- or anti-Mandell ad.

I live in Cleveland, which is going to go pretty heavily for Obama. I'm actually surprised that I haven't received any Obama GOTV mail. The only political mail I've gotten has been for local pols and local ballot issues.

And I'd have to agree that most people I talk to are getting tired of all the attention, especially because there doesn't seem to be any benefit to being a swing state. What does Ohio (or Florida, or any other swing state) get out of the deal? More federal funds? On the surface it doesn't look like it, although maybe there's been some poli-sci reseach into this topic. I'd genuinely like to know.
posted by mcmile at 10:08 AM on October 22, 2012

I'm in Columbus, and I grew up in New Hampshire, so I've been totally steeped in politics about as long as I can remember caring. We moved to NH when I was 8 in 1996, and I've been in Ohio since 2010, so this is my first presidential election here.

I don't have a landline, but I've been getting pretty frequent calls on my cell phone from both the NH and OH democratic parties and Obama's campaign - three or four times a week. No matter how many times I tell the NH folks I'm not registered to vote there anymore! I get e-mails basically all the time. We get mailers two or three times a week, though many of those are for local candidates. I'm in an apartment complex with a keypad preventing people from knocking on my door, but when I was at home in NH, we'd get people knocking on the door maybe once or twice a weekend, and increasingly frequent as the elections got closer. Obama's spoken on campus (I am a grad student at OSU) several times - I actually canceled class last week because he was speaking literally outside the building I teach in. The Obama campaign has had a booth set up in our quad since classes started back in August with voter registration forms, and now that registration is closed, they're handing out literature and trying to get people to vote early. I haven't gotten any contact from Republican candidates (I'm a registered Dem) except for my congressional representative who I sent an angry letter to last year.

Political advertisements are inescapable on both TV and radio. I don't watch *that* much TV, but I'd say 3 out of every 4 commercials are political. We're in the middle of a nasty senate race too, though, so they're not all presidential politics.

Most of my family is in New England, but among the other students and my friends, politics are a frequent topic of conversation. There's a big group going to a local movie theater to watch the debates, for example. Most of my neighbors are international students (Chinese) and I don't have a good sense of their take on the election, though I'm sure it'd be interesting. In NH, I felt that there was a lot of pride in our sort of oversized political role. Nobody thinks about NH outside of the primary season, so we've got to make a good impression! Consequently, folks are pretty up on the issues and the candidates. Even in 6th and 7th grade, we had pretty cogent conversations about it. I don't know if the same thing usually happens in Ohio, or if it's just because of how polarized people are this election.

The biggest difference I've noticed between politics here and in NH is the scale. In NH, everything is a lot smaller and more intimate. I met Obama at a neighbor's house, Hillary Clinton was the graduation speaker for my high school the year after I graduated, Al Sharpton and Howard Dean both spoke at assemblies at my high school, I was one of maybe 35 people at a Wesley Clark house party. Going and hearing Obama with 20,000 of my closest friends isn't as exciting to me as it seems to be for other people who didn't grow up in a very political state. I think the other big difference is that NH politics are SUPERINTENSE the summer and fall before the primary, and then things are a bit lower key. Here, it's been a steady ramping up effect. It feels like someone is always in the area messing up traffic.
posted by ChuraChura at 10:22 AM on October 22, 2012

Cincinnatian here (since 1998).

The telephone calls are incessant. We are looking at 5-10 calls a night. We get probably 3-5 pieces of electoral mail a day. The door to door canvassing hasn't been bad and isn't statistically different than in previous years.

The amount this is discussed amongst friends really comes down to who I am talking to. I have friends on both sides of the aisle that live to discuss politics. They can't pass up any topic without injecting politics into it. I have other friends who are essentially turtles hiding in their shells until the second week of November.

Lots of tv ads for politics (thankfully I can skip them) and a lot of local news coverage of the candidates and their surrogates that are in the area. Hardly a week goes by without a national party figure making some appearance within the city or an hour or so outside the city limits.
posted by mmascolino at 10:43 AM on October 22, 2012

Forgot to add, if it is relevant: I live in Cincinnati.
posted by cooker girl at 10:50 AM on October 22, 2012

I'm in the Toledo area. We don't have cable, so we stream or download our TV through Netflix, Amazon, and/or Hulu. Almost all of the ads there are political, many for the presidential campaign but a few for house/senatorial campaigns.

I only have a cell phone with an Illinois area code, so I don't get many political calls. The ones that I do are almost entirely pseudo-polls with incredibly biased, leading questions - clearly partisan sponsored (on both sides) and not meant for actual, statistically-valid information gathering.

The biggest barrage is in the mail - we get several fliers a day. I have a Jewish-sounding last name, even though I'm not myself Jewish, and so we get not only standard fare but a whole range of truly goofy, pandering fliers about Israel/Palestine and "Jewish Issues."

I'm in a fairly politically-interested group of friends and acquaintances, and although we can agree on little else, consensus is that this election sucks and we're all really tired of it.
posted by Rallon at 11:52 AM on October 22, 2012

I'm in Columbus and agree with those who posted above - a barrage of junk mail, phone calls on my cell (mostly weird polls), lots of tv ads when we do have local tv on and 2 volunteers that knocked on my door.

Like some others, I talk about politics with friends and a few co-workers, but don't talk about it with family. Most of us are just tired of hearing about it. Who could possibly be undecided at this point? This campaign seems even longer than 2008, if that's possible.
posted by ceramicblue at 12:36 PM on October 22, 2012

I'm in Cincy as well. I don't have cable and don't watch a ton of over-the-air TV, so most of the ads bypass me. Although I have noticed that Hulu runs a ton of Obama/Romney ads during Daily Show, Colbert Report, and occasionally during other shows. I wonder if Hulu figures ZIP codes into its ad placement algorithm?
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:38 PM on October 22, 2012

Akron area represented right here.

Also without the cable, and boy this is another reason to be glad of that. Lots of yard signs, more than I can remember seeing before. Telemarketers calling INCESSANTLY. Which, to me, a person who doesn't use the phone much, means going from a few times a week to four or five times a day. I don't answer them. LOTS of republican calls, I don't know if it's because i'm a registered democrat or they just have more money to spend. Hardly any Democrat. Lots of those recorded message calls, which completely infuriate me.

I tend to avoid discussing politics; the people I have the most opportunity to do so with would just be casual acquaintances and based on observation I think our opinions would be pretty diametrically opposed and I just... don't want to go there.
posted by lemniskate at 1:17 PM on October 22, 2012

I'm just outside of Akron. Two weeks ago, Romney spoke down the street from my house and shut down half the city of eight hours.

In today's mail, which is conveniently next to me, there are nine different political mailers. (They're not all presidential, though we did get two for Obama and two for Romney, all from different organizations. The rest are state/local elections. This feels like an exceptionally heavy mailer day, but three or four a day are expected.)

When I had a health scare a few weeks back, I spent a total of three hours in various waiting rooms, and watched what felt like an unceasing string of political ads and election coverage. Most of the televisions were on either Fox News or NBC--other stations may have less coverage, but I doubt it.

We get phone calls every day, multiple times per day, on both of our phone numbers.

In one day last week, we had three different door-to-door canvassers show up at the house, including one group of Jehovah's Witnesses encouraging us not to vote for either of the "two evils", but to abstain entirely and also to come hang out at their church.

On a personal level, I've attempted to stop discussing politics entirely, though I haven't been successful. Last night an otherwise enjoyable evening at my parents' house was ruined when one of their neighbors came over and started in about "Hurf durf Obama voters!" (That's not me being an asshole, that's what she said at one point and is indicative of the rest of the conversation.) After five minutes of polite attempts at changing the subject I flat-out yelled at her and told her to move the fuck on, after which she limited herself to only a handful of remarks, followed by behind-the-hand tittering. This is, in my experience, a moderate ending for that kind of thing--I've been at places (infrequently) where politics came up and people let it go quickly, but I've also been at places (amongst otherwise civilized people who, in nonelection years, like each other) that devolved to shouting matches and people taking their toys and going home.

You can't drive anywhere on a major road or highway without encountering many, many political billboards. Cleveland (and Cinci) got some lovely racist anti-vote-fraud billboards. There are a lot "Obama supports gay marriage and abortion...do YOU?" boards, (uh, yeah, I do, so...thanks, I guess?) and just as many "Sherrod Brown hates Ohio and is really working for Nancy Pelosi and Obama!" billboards. I haven't noticed as many anti-Republican billboards, but it could be because I'm more sensitive to the anti-Dems ones.

I can't wait for the election to be over.
posted by MeghanC at 2:32 PM on October 22, 2012

Just a few more details. I'll agree that there are a lot of political billboards with it seemingly skewed towards republicans but I'll also admit that they are also the simplest looking design with a few bold colors and giant lettering so they look different and stand out amongst the sea of the usual commercial billboards.

There also seems to be a lot more street level placards but like others mention it is not all presidential related. Its not statistically significant but on my route into work the only graffiti/vandalism of these signs is anti-republican (think handwritten "Rethuglicans Lie" and other similar things).
posted by mmascolino at 9:38 AM on October 23, 2012

We're in Canada but recently called a person we know who who lives just outside Toledo that we don't talk to that often, maybe once a year.

His phone rang and rang so we left a message then he called us right back. He said the political calls were so bad that he's now screening any phone numbers he doesn't recognize. (He's a Republican by the way but we didn't ask who the majority of the calls are coming from or get into any more details.)
posted by Jaybo at 11:47 PM on November 7, 2012

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