The last Republican candidate to win the presidency without winning Ohio was Abraham Lincoln. Whatever traits Donald Trump has in common with the 16th president, a clear path to victory without Ohio is not among them. The Buckeye State is an absolute must-win for Donald Trump, and while victory there is far from guaranteed, a Trump Ohio victory is definitely possible.
After all, things are finally looking up for Trump. After a month of wall-to-wall negative coverage eviscerating the Republican nominee for allegations of sexual assault, lewd remarks about women, and subpar debate performances, FBI director James Comey released a letter indicating the bureau's intention to review an unspecified number of emails related to — though not necessarily sent to or by — Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. That announcement could be just what Trump needs to clinch victory in Ohio, where he maintained a narrow lead even during some of his worst weeks in other states.
Like many states, Ohio also offers early voting — and the preliminary data that has emerged from that voting looks good for Trump. According to Andrew Tobias at the Plain Dealer, early voting is "lagging in Democratic areas," particularly Cuyahoga County, which is normally "deep blue."
The Clinton campaign seems well aware of the importance of winning Ohio and isn't giving it up without a fight. Hillary Clinton spent Monday in the Buckeye State and Bill Clinton campaigned there in late October. Rapper and mogul Jay-Z and Beyonce headlined a concert for Clinton in Cleveland, and the Clinton campaign has been widely praised for its effective ground game.
Their efforts may not be enough, though, against entrenched demographic preferences that don't favor Democrats, according to Cleveland NBC affiliate WKYC:
Hillary Clinton gets overwhelming support from African-American and Hispanic communities as well as educated women voters. But Ohio is less diverse with a lower education level than other key states.
But neither candidate seems to be particularly inspiring to Ohioans, at least not the ones with the deepest pockets: the Columbus Dispatch reported that campaign donations to either candidate from the Buckeye State are at a remarkable low.
Both candidates will have their eyes on Ohio on election night. For Clinton, a win could be the tipping point for victory; for Trump, a loss could be the final blow to his campaign. The only thing to be certain of ahead of next Tuesday is that Ohio is still anyone's to win.