LIVE UPDATES: Fox News Projects President Obama Wins Ohio
UPDATE, 11:15p ET: Fox News can now project that President Obama will win the crucial battleground state of Ohio, which has long been considered a harbinger for the nation. With 18 electoral votes, Ohio is a significant victory for Obama and a major setback for Romney, whose path to the 270 electoral votes needed for victory just got considerably narrower.
Get continuing updates on the standings of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama in the state of Ohio, with latest polls, political facts, figures, stories and commentary.
UPDATE, 10:33p ET: With 60 percent of the expected vote reporting in Ohio, here’s where the critical swing state currently stands.
UPDATE, 10:28p ET: Here's a look at the latest out of Ohio:
UPDATE, 8:45p ET: Check out the latest numbers from Ohio:
UPDATE, 7:30p ET: Polls have now closed in Ohio, but the race remains too close to call. Stay tuned for the latest.
Update: Columbus Dispatch political reporter Joe Vardon was on Happening Now to discuss the race and which candidate seems to have an early edge.
ELECTION DAY UPDATE: Fox News correspondent Mike Tobin reported from Columbus, Ohio, saying that — at least at his polling place — it was taking about an hour for the average voter to cast their ballot.
Tobin also reported that complaints were coming in about a local conservative organization called True The Vote, who some are accusing of copying signatures illegally in order to get their volunteers into certain polling places, particularly those in minority communities.
Current Standing Among Likely Voters:
Barack Obama: 48.9%
Mitt Romney: 46.6%
Open: 6:30a ET
Close: 7:30p ET
2008 Election Results:
Obama - 2,940,044 votes - 51.50%
McCain - 2,677,820 votes - 46.91%
Other - 90,486 votes - 1.59%
History and electoral math say Ohio and its 18 electoral votes are pivotal again this year, and probably crucial for Romney.
Ohio is at the center of both Obama and Romney's campaign strategies. Winning the state would put Obama on the brink of the 270 Electoral College votes required to win the White House. Romney, who has fewer pathways to victory than the president, almost certainly needs Ohio's 18 electoral votes if he hopes to claim victory.
In the past six elections, Ohio has supported three Republicans and three Democrats. It has the nation's best record of backing victors since 1900; the last time it failed to pick the winner was in 1960.
No Republican has been elected president without carrying Ohio; John F. Kennedy in 1960 was the last Democrat to win without Ohio.
The quadrennial swing state has accurately picked the president for the last 12 elections.
The state has been won by just a handful of points in the last few elections.
In 2008, Obama took the state by a 5-point margin -- the largest gap since President Clinton carried the state in 1996. In 2008, despite routing McCain nationally, Obama carried the state by just 262,224 votes out of more than 5.6 million cast.
In 2004, Bush won the state by 118,601 votes out of more than 5.6 million cast.
Over the last three presidential elections combined, with some 16 million votes cast, the difference between the two sides comes down to a total 23,112 votes more for the Republican candidates. George W. Bush won two of those elections, including clinching his re-election in 2004 by the equivalent of about 1 percent of Ohio's population.
Clinton's winning margin over Bush's father in 1992 was even tighter.
Diverse in geography and economy, Ohio is a Midwestern state with sections that act politically more like states in the East and the South. It has voter pools that include gritty, blue-collar manufacturing towns, teeming inner cities, sprawling college campuses, bedroom suburbs, and rural farming and mining communities.
Obama won in 2008 after getting thumped by Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary. In 2008, McCain won some traditional swing counties in southern and eastern Ohio that supported Clinton in the 1990s, but became the first Republican presidential candidate to lose Cincinnati-based Hamilton County since Barry Goldwater in 1964.
In 2010, Republicans won by landslide margins, taking all statewide offices and the Legislature and easily holding a Senate seat, reversing the Democrats' 2006 near-sweep of statewide offices.
Ohio voters last year soundly rejected the Republican-led effort to restrict public employee unions' collective bargaining but rebuffed Obama's signature health care legislation by an even bigger margin.
The state's median income, education, ages and other demographic measures are remarkably like the nation's as a whole, while the percentage of white residents is a little higher, and Ohio has lagged in Hispanic population growth.
Ohio's early settlers were divided among Easterners and Southerners; the city of Trenton was settled and named by New Jerseyans, and New Richmond by Virginians. The state remains divided today in its preferences from politics to sports.
The major cities are dominated by Democrats, with Democratic mayors in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.
The capital of Columbus is about as Middle America as it gets and home to the powerful Ohio State University athletic program, but drive an hour downstate and find folks speaking with Southern accents, wearing University of Kentucky blue and listening to country musicians like twangy Ohio-raised singer Dwight Yoakam. Cleveland is home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and has had some of the state's most liberal politicians, while Cincinnati produced pop boy band 98 Degrees and some of Ohio's most conservative leaders.
A suburban boom in the latter part of the 20th century fortified GOP garrisons outside the big cities, places such as Butler and Warren counties north of Cincinnati where Republicans routinely sweep county and legislative offices and deliver big margins to their presidential ticket. In the state's Appalachian region across the Ohio River from Kentucky and West Virginia, counties have swung to McCain and George W., but also have voted for Southerners Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. Western Ohio and its many small cities and rural stretches have been reliably Republican, while the Toledo area, with major automotive plants, at the northwest corner has been Democratic turf.
The Obama strategy in Ohio called for a summerlong advertising barrage to set the terms of the debate early and a massive campaign organization to hold the line against any late-developing Romney surge.
Democratic strategists believed that in a state with a long history of manufacturing, Obama's bailout of the automobile industry in 2009 and Romney's opposition to it would give the president a strong opening argument with the white, blue-collar workers who make up Ohio's swing vote. They hoped to build on the success of a union-backed campaign last year that overturned a new state law restricting collective bargaining by public employees, including police and firefighters.
Romney's position on the auto bailout dogs him in a state that's heavily reliant on the industry. Obama's decision to offer government support to automakers meant protection for thousands of jobs at parts and supply companies in Ohio.
Romney wrote a 2008 op-ed headlined "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt," which has become a rallying cry for Democrats. They have argued Obama's support for the bailout has had a hand in Ohio's drop in unemployment, which is now lower than the national average.
Ohio's unemployment rate ticked down last month to 7 percent from 7.2 percent, below the national average of 7.8 percent.
Both campaigns have put in place robust on-the-ground operations here.