COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio voters delivered victories Tuesday to Donald Trump for president and Rob Portman for U.S. Senate, two Republicans who ran very different campaigns.
The battleground state’s voters also returned all 16 congressional incumbents to office on an Election Day with no major legal or technical hiccups and mostly sunny, unseasonably warm November weather.
In defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton for the state’s 18 electoral votes, Trump captured support across rural, Appalachian and even some blue-collar urban areas that traditionally lean Democratic.
In the blue-collar Mahoning Valley, for example, Trump beat Clinton in Trumbull County and held her to under 50 percent in Mahoning County, where his supporters said they saw similarities to the blunt-talking late congressman Jim Traficant, a Democrat.
Clinton ran strongest in big urban areas, especially Cleveland, Toledo and Columbus, but her leads weren’t strong enough to offset Trump’s support elsewhere.
Portman easily won his re-election bid over Democratic challenger Ted Strickland, the state’s once-popular former governor, after a well-oiled campaign with a positive tone that contrasted with Trump’s often volatile tone. Portman’s outside allies handled much of the negativism in that campaign, spending millions of dollars on ads against Strickland.
Exit polls showed Trump did well with men and whites while Clinton’s support was strong among women and minorities around the state.
Trump did better than most Republicans have in past presidential years among Ohio’s union households. But Clinton picked up more backing from white women than Democratic President Barack Obama had four years ago.
The exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and television networks by Edison Research showed that the state’s young voters tilted heavily toward Clinton while Trump was the big favorite of those looking for someone who would bring change.
Very few of the state’s voters said they thought both candidates are qualified for the office. About 1 in 4 voters said neither was honest and trustworthy.
At Thoreau Park Elementary school in the Cleveland suburb of Parma, a traditional Democratic stronghold in Cuyahoga County, long-time registered Democrat Rose Noah said she’d switched to the Republican side this year and voted for Trump.
“I’ve told all my friends who’ve asked, if I had to pick one of them as president, I’d rather pick crazy than a liar,” said Noah, 53.
She said Clinton “hasn’t done anything in 40 years” and “has ugly pantsuits.”
Ohioans faced few voting issues, despite projections of “rigging” by Trump and fears there would be voter intimidation. A polling place in Warren County in southwest Ohio lost power for more than an hour, but elections director Brian Sleeth said voting was unaffected — “just a little darker than usual.”
In state races, Democrats failed in their efforts to take any seats from majority Republicans in the House and Senate.
Instead, Democrats lost ground in both chambers, ceding one open House seat to the GOP for at least a 66-33 advantage and losing incumbent Sen. Lou Gentile’s seat in the Senate.
In races for three state Supreme Court seats, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor was returned to her seat unopposed, and Republican Pat DeWine, a judge on the 1st Ohio District Court of Appeals in Cincinnati and son of state Attorney General Mike DeWine, won one of the two open races.
The race between Democrat John O’Donnell and Pat Fischer was too close to call early Wednesday.
Associated Press reporters Ann Sanner, Andrew Welsh-Huggins and Kantele Franko in Columbus, Mark Gillispie in Cleveland and John Seewer in Toledo contributed to this report.
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