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Ohio Turns Blue On Electoral Maps.

Political pundits painted Ohio blue early last evening as it became apparent that President-elect Barack Obama would win a majority and pocket the state's 20 electoral votes. But, opinions differ on how and why the state changed its color on the political map.

Ohio Governor Ted Strickland was an early supporter of Hillary Clinton who transferred his allegiance to Barack Obama. In a nationally broadcast interview last summer Strickland warned the Obama campaign team not to ignore the state's Appalachian counties. He said for a democrat to win the state, he or she had to get out of the big cities and into the traditional republican strongholds east and south of Zanesville. "We are a microcosm of America and we have great diversity and it is difficult to pigeonhole Ohio as either a republican or a democratic state." Says Strickland.

Until election day, discussion about Senator Obama's chances in Ohio often centered on race and whether white, rural voters in southeast Ohio would support an African-American candidate. OSU Professor John Powell says voters answered the race question at the polls.

"It was historic for a number of reasons. There was a lot of doubt that Obama would be able to pull the Reagan democrats that Hillary was able to pull. And the biggest issue was race. With a rather basically in Southern Ohio in the rural areas whether white democrats and white republicans would vote for Obama, and they did." Says Powell.

Exit polls for The Associated Press and television networks indicate white voters slightly favored Republican John McCain, but not enough to make up for Obama's huge advantage among blacks. Ohio G-O-P Chairman Bob Bennett says race was not the primary issue in Obama's Ohio victory.

"We lost the election tonight because we couldn't buck the economic headwinds and the turmoil that were in the lives of most of the voters in Ohio and that's the only reason that we lost." Says Bennett.

Results show Obama carried the northern half of the state where industrial cities have been hit hard by job losses. He also managed to split the vote in reliably Republican southwest Ohio.