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Episode 73: Ohio: The Bellwether State of Presidents with Dr. Lauren Pinkston

podcast Jan 03, 2022

In this episode, Sharon sits down with Dr. Lauran Pinkston, Executive Director for Kindred Exchange, to share some good old-fashioned Ohio facts. Join the duo as they discuss why Ohio has long been dubbed “The Bellwether State” and why that title may be in jeopardy. What exactly is a “bellwether” and why do political pundits claim it has been unrung? Ohio has a fascinating geographical settlement history that has shaped the way the state’s demographics have participated in national politics. Sharon tells Lauren how this is evolving, and why Ohio voted for Trump in 2020 but the nation voted for Biden. Of course, there’s no shortage of presidential facts in this episode, as Ohio is the origin of eight presidents and six first ladies!

Links to Full Episode: 

This Episode Will Teach You:

  • The definition and origin of the word “bellwether”
  • Why we consider Ohio a bellwether state
  • How Ohio’s settlement history contributed to its voting diversity
  • The changes to Ohio’s current population
  • Why Trump won Ohio when Biden won the nation
  • How electoral votes work
  • Which presidents are from Ohio
  • Which First Ladies are from Ohio

3 Biggest Takeaways:

  • A “bellwether” refers to a leader or an indicator of prediction. The term derives from Middle English, and its original use was to refer to the practice of placing a bell around the neck of a castrated ram, called a wether. The belled wether would lead a flock of sheep and the shepherd could then note the movements of the animals by listening for the bell when the flock was out of sight. Over time, the word evolved to take on modern definitions, often used when talking about the stock market or politics. Around the country, we often hear Ohio being referred to as a bellwether state, a battleground state, or a swing state, and pundits stress Ohio’s election importance, claiming that whoever wins Ohio will most likely win the nation.
  • Historically, Ohio has always demographically reflected the nation: It’s home to members of many different cultural and political groups, but it is dominated by none of them. The Western Reserve was land in northeastern Ohio that was purchased by Connecticut in the 1700s. It was largely colonized by settlers from Connecticut and other Northeastern states. To this day, Northeast Ohio votes a lot like Connecticut does. In contrast, the Virginia Military District, in what is now the central and southwestern region of Ohio, is land that Virginia used as payment in lieu of cash for its Revolutionary War veterans. This Virginia Military District was settled by Southerners and reflects Southern voting patterns. But now Ohio’s population growth is slowing. Currently, Ohio’s demographics are whiter, slightly older, and less educated than the national demographics are.
  • Another title Ohio enjoys is “The Mother of Presidents.” It is a title that is often shared with the state of Virginia because both states like to claim eight presidents as their own. The presidents born in Ohio are Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B Hayes, James Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, William Taft, and Warren G Harding. Ohio likes to also claim William Henry Harrison, who was born in Virginia, but moved to and was residing in Ohio when he was elected president. Ohio is also the birthplace of six first ladies: Lucy Webb Hayes, Lucretia Rudolph Garfield, Caroline Scott Harrison, Ida Saxton McKinley, Helen Herron Taft, Florence DeWolfe Harding.

About the Guest:

Dr. Lauren Pinkston is a wife and the mom of three kids who were all born on different continents. During her time living and working abroad, she discovered ethical business to be a catalyst for community development, especially for survivors of exploitative labor. She is an Assistant Professor of Business as Mission at Lipscomb University and the Executive Director for Kindred Exchange, a non-profit focused on fostering authenticity and accountability in cross-cultural Christian Missions.

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