In the mathematics of American politics, it is as if the winners were already known by history, regardless of the opponents. The colour and the past of each of the fifty states re-establish themselves every four years, as if there was a fate impossible to overturn.

That is how it is decided where and how much to invest, to earn an extra county and hope that the story is wrong and trends will follow suit.

It is more difficult to know in advance what can happen in Ohio, the seventh most populous state in the United States of America, as for over 100 years the protagonist of that strange statistic has always seen it choose the next president. The only exceptions are the 1948 and 1960 elections, when first Roosevelt got the best of Dewey, and John Kennedy got the best of the favourite candidate Richard Nixon.

In 2016, Donald Trump won by eight percentage points more than the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, but both in 2008 and 2012, Barack Obama made it to secure a qualified majority by only a handful of votes, thanks to which he won the elections.

Over the years the state has proved to be extremely important not only for Obama’s re-election – before the second term, the Democratic party reached 50.58 per cent against 47.6 per cent of the Republicans – but also in 2004 when George W. Bush won in Ohio with 51 per cent of votes, reaching the necessary margin to be re-elected in the US Electoral College.

So why the state, that most closely represents Trump’s electorate, has been chosen for the fourth Democratic debate? The twelve candidates, the highest number for a debate, challenged each other on stage at the Otterbein University in Westerville, a suburb of the capital Columbus, wherein the recent elections democratic support was slightly higher than that of Trump’s party.

Yet Priorities USA, a top Democratic political-action committee, hasn’t included Ohio on the list of states in its early engagement program for 2020.

For some of the Democratic candidates, it could have been the last chance to participate in a debate before the 2020 primaries and all the eyes were on the host state where the vote has been decreasing for decades. According to a recent poll by Emerson Polling on the local electorate, mostly white and closely aligned with Trump, the data also concerns the current president – 54 per cent of women in the state do not approve of Trump’s actions. The survey recorded a drop in score, especially regarding the topic of employment and the promises made by Trump during the 2016 electoral campaign. Among the many, that of bringing jobs back to the state in the manufacturing sector which are now in China, Mexico and Japan, with a consequent increase in job positions. For now, there is still hope for the thousands of employees of the General Motors factory in Lordstown, northeast of the State, closed for more than six months without any prospect of an imminent reopening.

“In order for us to win Ohio going forward, we need to not spend a lot of our time trying to win back Trump Democrats,” said former Democratic governor Ted Strickland, “we must go beyond the vote of urban areas, [focusing on that] of women and ensuring a strong African-American turnout.”

According to the data published in October by Moody’s Analytics, the subsidiary of Moody’s Corporation established in 2007, it seems that most of the states, 35, are red. Moody’s based its projections on how consumers feel about their financial situation, the gains the stock market has achieved during Trump’s tenure and the prospects for unemployment, which has fallen to a 50-year low. “It seems good to me,” tweeted President Trump commenting the data.

Although the 43 per cent consensus in Ohio is still not much higher than the national average of 42, it seems that the state has also lost its bellwether status, after having had the longest bellwether streak of any state.

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