Ohio, the politically bellwether Midwestern state that spans from the southern Ohio River and Appalachian Mountains to Lake Erie in the north, produced the world’s first billionaire in oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller in 1884. Ohioans have voted the way the nation has voted in every presidential election since 1964, be it a Republican or Democratic winner.
The Buckeye State is home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton and Ohio Stadium in Columbus. The novelist Charles Dickens once dubbed Cincinnati "one of the most interesting [cities] in America."
First settled by French fur traders, Ohio became a British colony in 1754 after the French and Indian War. Great Britain ceded Ohio to the U.S. after the American Revolution, and it was incorporated into the Northwest Territory in 1787. Ohio became the 17th state in 1803 even as bloody clashes between white settlers and Native Americans continued in the region.
Industrialization in Ohio boomed upon the discovery of coal, and Cleveland, one of the state’s largest cities, was the third largest iron and steel producer in the country by 1853. During the approximately 10-year Ohio Oil Rush of the 1860s, the state produced more crude oil than anywhere else in the country. Rockefeller entered the oil business in 1863 by investing in a Cleveland refinery and founded the Standard Oil Co. in 1870. By the 1880s, his company controlled 90 percent of U.S. refineries and pipelines.
During the Civil War, the state played a key role in providing the Union Army with troops and supplies, and it was Ohio that produced Ulysses S. Grant, the general who led the Union to victory over the Confederate Army. Ohio is sometimes called the “Mother of Modern Presidents,” as seven Ohioans held the White House between 1869 and 1923, including Grant.
Ohio has shared in modern political turmoil as well. It was the site of the 1970 Kent State University shootings, in which four students were killed and nine wounded when the Ohio National Guard opened fire on campus amid anti-Vietnam War protests.
Today, about 11.7 million people call Ohio home. About 83 percent of the population is white, while nearly 13 percent is African-American and just under 4 percent is Hispanic of any race.
Only about 7 percent of Ohio residents speak a language other than English at home, and slightly more than 4 percent were born outside the U.S.
At $52,3341,075, the median household income in 2016 was below the national average of $57,617, though the poverty rate was only slightly higher than the national rate. The median value of owner-occupied housing is $140,100, about two-thirds of the median American home value.
Ohio's manufacturing industry leads the country in production of plastics and rubber, fabricated metals and electrical equipment and appliances. The state is also a leading producer of trucks, autos and steel. Other leading industries include transportation and trade, business services, real estate and education and health. Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Ohio include Cardinal Health, Nationwide, Marathon Petroleum, Macy’s, Procter & Gamble and Kroger.
Columbus, the fourth most populous state capital, houses 850,000 residents. In Ohio, it is followed by Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo and Akron, where fewer than 200,000 people live. A handful of Ohio cities rank among the U.S. News Best Places to Live, including Cincinnati, Columbus Dayton, Toledo, Youngstown and Cleveland.
Ohio is among the more religious states, with two in three adults saying they believe in God with absolute certainty.
The ultimate swing state, with its ability to vote either Republican or Democratic in national elections, Ohio has a Republican governor, one Republican U.S. senator and one Democratic U.S. senator.
This political battleground lost two electoral votes in 2010, making it the fifth consecutive Census in which the state lost at least one vote. Yet, from Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 to Donald Trump in 2016, Ohio has backed a winner in every modern presidential election.