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Was Obama’s Ohio State visit worth it?

Cody Cousino / Lantern photographer

Less than a month ago, President Barack Obama paid a visit to Ohio State to gather support for the Democratic Party.

It didn’t work out. Republicans have taken over Ohio.

Governor-elect John Kasich won a tight race early Wednesday with 49 percentage points over incumbent Gov. Ted Strickland’s 47 percent. Rep. Rob Portman won a seat in the U.S. Senate, and State Sen. Jon Husted will be Ohio secretary of state. Steve Stivers won the Ohio 15th District over incumbent Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy.

OSU has not released its costs for the president’s visit on Oct. 17, but the question lingers whether the rally was worth it.

On Oct. 17, Strickland preceded the president and first lady Michelle Obama at the rally that attracted an estimated 35,000 people. But he still fell to Kasich in the election.

Richard Gunther, a professor of political science at OSU, said he believes the rally was still worthwhile.

“The strategy was correct, it just turned out to be a more difficult task than (Obama) had imagined,” Gunther said.

Herb Weisberg, another professor of political science at OSU, shared Gunther’s sentiments.

“It’s always worth it for the politicians to try to win,” Weisberg said. “They know only one can win, but they both put in a lot of time and a lot of effort to try to be the one who is the winner.”

Gunther attributed a low turnout of young people as the major problem.

“If young people had turned out in the same level that they did in 2008, it probably would have produced a Democratic majority,” he said.

Gunther said the rally might have occurred too late in the year to have affected the youth vote.

But both professors said there was nothing else the president could have done to prevent what happened and that the rally was the right strategy, despite the cost.

“That’s the price of democracy, giving the president the opportunity to meet constituents, address constituents and politic for his party,” Weisberg said. “I think we’ll always have that cost of democracy.”

Columbus was not the only stop on the campaign trail in Ohio for the Democratic Party. Obama also visited Cleveland twice to rally for support.

Although the event did not have a noticeable effect on the midterm election, how it will affect the presidential election in 2012 is still unknown.

“I think people always remember when they see a president in person,” Weisberg said. “But whether it will affect their vote two years from now, I don’t know.” 

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