Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are returning to Cincinnati later this month, further emphasizing the importance of Ohio to their success in November.
Each candidate will be speaking at the American Legion’s 98th national convention at the Duke Energy Convention Center. Taking place Aug. 26 through Sept. 1, the nonpartisan veterans service organization invites candidates from the two major parties to address its members every presidential cycle.
Clinton is set to speak Aug. 31, and Trump is set to address the convention on Sept. 1.
Those appearances will mark the 16th time one of the presidential candidates has visited Ohio since the March primary. Barring any additional events before then to their schedules, it will be the eighth visit to Ohio for both Clinton and Trump.
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“Given its relative size, and its competitiveness, it is no surprise both campaigns will pay close attention to it,” Cedarville University political science professor Mark C. Smith said of Ohio.
The latest Ohio polls have Clinton leading Trump, some by as many as 4 points. However, there are polls that have Trump clinging to a small lead.
Ohio, which has been deemed winnable by either party for the past five presidential elections, is a “microcosm of America,” Smith said.
“It is both rural and urban, agricultural and manufacturing, religiously and culturally diverse, but still full of moderate, Midwestern values,” he said. “Campaigns that cannot compete in Ohio will likely be unable to appeal to a broad swath of the American electorate. Ohio matters.”
And Ohio, Smith said, “is full of potential Trump voters,” especially in economically struggling rural areas.
For Clinton, “it’s more of a blocking state” because Trump can’t win without Ohio, according to Xavier University political science professor Mack Mariani.
Though Ohio and its 18 electoral votes represent a valuable swing state, Mariani said the state may not be as important in this presidential cycle if Clinton wins states like West Virginia or Georgia.
Clinton is behind in West Virginia, but polls in Georgia show it could go either way.
The 2016 election “is a continuation” of the presidential contest four years ago where Ohio had more presidential visits than any other state, said John Forren, a political science professor at Miami University Hamilton.
It appears to be on that pace again as Clinton and Trump’s 13 combined visits represent the most of any state.
In 2004, southwest Ohio was key to President George W. Bush’s re-election bid. Butler and Warren counties collectively gave Bush more than 177,900 votes, which was enough to offset the high numbers for John Kerry in northeast Ohio. Bush won Ohio by less than 118,800 votes.
No Republican has won the White House without winning Ohio.
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EDITOR’S NOTE: Since this story was first published, the Donald Trump campaign added another stop in Ohio. He’s expected to be in Akron on Monday, Aug. 22. The American Legion event on Sept. 1 in Cincinnati would now be his 8th trip to Ohio, barring any additional campaign events added before then.