Any political map of Ohio will look like a mosaic thrown together by Jackson Pollock. The agrarian areas – sparsely populated but taking up most of Ohio’s real estate – are very Republican. The urban areas – small in area but densely populated – are strongly Democrat, except for Cincinnati. The suburbs will be largely Republican, but any five-miles radius around any college or university will be Democrat even if it’s situated in the middle of miles of cornfields. But the universities and urban areas also have a fair number of independent voters, Libertarians, and a tiny smattering of Green party members.

This is why Ohio’s a swing state.(1) This is why we get catered to every four years. This is why nominees stop here so many times and we get to feel like the really expensive whores in the nice part of town.

This is why we get so blasted tired of the whole process.

If you watched The Daily Show on Thursday, you likely caught the bit on “Swing State Hell.” If you didn’t, hit up that link because, even given Stewart’s team’s tendency toward rampant hyperbole, that’s pretty much what it’s like to live in Ohio when it gets to be that time of the four years again. Let me give you a small, unexaggerated sampling.

I don’t watch much television. Ash and I watch most of the shows we watch via Hulu Plus, which I’ll get to in a minute. The only time I really tune-in and drop-out is on Sundays during football season. Now, football season is known for its own special brand of advertisements: ads for beer, trucks, and NFL gear that generally focus on “being a man.”(2) It gets old pretty fast, which is why I usually read a book while watching a game. But during the games I watched yesterday I saw only five or six beer commercials and – honestly – not a single truck commercial. It was all political ads.

The ads for President Obama and Gov. Romney were the most frequent, seconded by the local Senate race between Senator Sherrod Brown and State Treasurer Josh Mandel. This second race is worth noting because the only reason it’s a race at all is due to the vast amount of airtime various superPACs have purchased to get Mandel in the Senate.(3)

Furthermore, I don’t think we’ve seen a commercial for anything other than President Obama on Hulu since like maybe July. Sometimes we see two ads back-to-back. It’s ridiculous.

Flip through radio channels anywhere in Ohio this very moment and you’ll find half the stations playing shitty music and half the stations playing shitty ads. Wait fifteen minutes. Repeat. The only difference will be which stations are playing ads v. which are playing music.(4)

I got phone calls on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Not robo-calls, mind you, but real actual people who leave messages in convivial but firm tones – as though we’re all in this, or perhaps conspiring in this, together – saying they just want to take a few minutes to remind me that I can vote early and that I should use my early vote to support the president.

Someone stopped by our house on Saturday. Someone else stopped by on Sunday. Just a quick knock on the door and a few moments to remind us that we can vote early and blah blah blah.

We saw whole new ads, most put together by various groups who are taking issues that haven’t been issues and making them seem critical to this election. For example, the National Rifle Association(5) now has ads in Ohio tell us that President Obama is waging war on the second amendment. Which he’s not. At all. It’s hasn’t even come up once that I’m aware of.

The national race garners so much media attention that I had actually to look up which issues might be on the ballot.(6) I didn’t even know there were Ohio judges up for election/re-eleciton. I knew about one of the local elections, but there were about ten of them total. And that’s all because the small elections can’t out-bid the national campaigns for air-time.(7)

At least on Wednesday this will all be over.(8)

  1. I’ve simplified it somewhat, and of course any area can change. Cincinnati, for example, has long been Republican but went strong for President Obama in 2008. So obviously both side are courting voters pretty hard down there.
  2. Not really clear on what that means. My best guess is that I drink beer while driving the biggest damn truck I can find through the most remote regions of the world possible and never – never – on anything that could be considered a street, road, highway, or even path, usually with three other of my somewhat less manly friends who’re all smiling and laughing and having a good time in a way that carries not even a hint of homoeroticism, and that I sound like Denis Leary and that everything I say is so critical it also gets spelled out right there on the screen in impossible-to-ignore yellow majisculed letters.
  3. Which aside from the part in which I’ve met Sherrod Brown and he’s a really decent guy, I wouldn’t vote for someone who has superPACs putting up that much money to get him elected. He’s already been bought, in my opinion, as is anyone who’s neck-and-neck in a race for the same reason.
  4. But it’s all shit, make no mistake.
  5. Despite its name, the NRA is not, in fact, an association of rifles. Nor do they restrict their membership only to the owners of rifles. My understanding is that you can belong even if you own a shotgun, a pistol, a handgun, a six-shooter, an automatic, a semi-automatic, probably even a Gatling gun but probably not just a BB gun, just as long as you pay your dues and get down on your knees every night to thank Jesus for giving us Charlton Heston.
  6. I knew about Issue 2, but they’ve basically sold Issue 2 under every concern possible without ever actually saying what it’s about.
  7. Well and because I didn’t look them up on my own, what with being busy with the wedding and then the 2.5 weeks at Disney World. In which all of this brand of advertising was blessedly absent. O how I miss it…
  8. Except it won’t. I personally expect that Ohio will be too close to call, that they’ll be counting ballots for week. There’ll be complaints of voter fraud, booth-rigging, hijinks and shenanigans. But at least the Ford truck commercials will be back.

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