Likewise, consider 1968, and another Wallace – Alabama’s rabble-rousing George C. Wallace, of the American Independent Party. That year, Republican Richard M. Nixon carried Ohio by roughly 90,000 votes, besting Democrat Hubert H. Humphrey. Wallace drew about 467,000 votes in Ohio.
If one in five Ohioans who had voted for Wallace in 1968 had instead voted for Humphrey, Humphrey would have carried Ohio. Agreed, Ohio’s electoral vote wouldn’t have given Humphrey the White House; he’d still have had a steep climb. (And Nixon’s Southern Strategy later wooed one-time Wallace voters into becoming Republican voters.) But as renowned historian-commentator Kevin Phillips has observed, once-Democratic parts of southern and southwestern Ohio that went for George Wallace in 1968 have, with some ifs, ands and buts, remained lost to Democrats.
Now, consider part of 2016’s Ohio mix. The other day, the Quinnipiac University Poll’s Peter Brown said this the other day, “Libertarian Gary Johnson could decide the presidential election in the Buckeye State. He is getting 14 percent from Ohio voters and how that cohort eventually votes could be critical in this swing state – and in the nation.”
Footnote: Last week's column, about Golden Week, drew the usual flak about how vote fraud is in Democrats' DNA. Perennial Prosecution Exhibit No. 1: A GOP claim that John F. Kennedy won the presidency in 1960 only because Chicago Democratic boss Richard J. Daley rigged the count in Illinois. Ah, but as President John Adams said, "Facts are stubborn things." Even if Richard M. Nixon had carried Illinois in 1960, Democrats Kennedy still had enough electoral votes to become president. And he did.