WESTERVILLE, Ohio — As she stood before on the debate stage at Westerville's Otterbein University Tuesday night, Democratic Presidential hopeful Amy Klobuchar told the crowd "we are in Ohio, we can win Ohio."
That is why the party chose the state for the site of its latest presidential debate and why they chose the Columbus suburb of Westerville, a former Republican suburb that the state Democratic Party said has shifted blue.
"Which then I think is a statement about the whole state of Ohio being in play," said News 5 Political Analyst Dr. Tom Sutton of Baldwin Wallace University. "Maybe not being as reliably - get good turnout, Democrats are going to win — as it was in 2012 and 2008 — but certainly don't discount it because of the eight point win of President Trump in 2016. "
In President Trump's Ohio victory in 2016, we saw traditionally Democratic voters, union members that went with Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, vote for Donald Trump in 2016.
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg asked, "Why did workers take a chance on this president in the first place? It's because it felt like nobody was actually willing to do anything."
The hopefuls look to reach them by pulling from the playbook of a Democrat who has: Senator Sherrod Brown. Brown won re-election to a third term easily last fall and toyed with a White House run himself earlier this year, even launching a "Dignity of Work" tour of Iowa and New Hampshire. That term popped up in the remarks of several debate participants.
"I think they were directly overtly appealing to the one successful statewide Democrat that we have had get elected," Sutton said. "And that definitely is the game plan. If you can do what Sherrod Brown did as a Progressive Democrat, not a moderate, then you've got a path to winning Ohio for the presidency."
As for the success of their efforts in a debate that emphasized many of the issues voters stressed in 2018 like healthcare, jobs and the economy, Sutton says there were successes.
"I think they certainly didn't lose any ground and it was good the fact they did the debate in Ohio, they talked about the kitchen table issues," Sutton said. "They did much better with Midwest issues than they did when they were in Detroit for the second debate and so on that basis they did as well as one could expect."