As Ohio goes, so goes the nation
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If you want to grow up and become a pundit, I suggest you concentrate your mental energies on one state: Ohio. You will hear it over and over again during the 2016 election cycle: "No Republican has ever been elected president without winning Ohio."

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It is not just a coincidence that the first Republican debate of this cycle was held in Ohio. And even more important, the Republicans picked Cleveland as the site for their convention next summer. And the Democrats, too, know full well how crucial Ohio is to their presidential fortunes. Let's look at the modern political history of the state.

No Democratic candidate since 1964 has won the White House without carrying Ohio. President Johnson won it big in 1964. Hubert Humphrey lost it in 1968. George McGovern lost it really big in 1972. (In fact, he lost 87 of 88 counties. The only county he won was Lucas County, which contains Toledo.)

President Carter narrowly won it in 1976 (by a mere 11,000 votes). He lost it in 1980. Vice President Mondale lost it in 1984. Michael Dukakis lost it in 1988. President Clinton won it in 1992, and won it again in 1996. Vice President Gore lost it in 2000. John Kerry lost it in 2004.

President Obama won it in 2008 and 2012. (The last Obama victory was 50 percent to 49 precent. The previous was a more comfortable 52 percent to 47 percent.) John Kennedy in 1960 was the last Democratic candidate for president to lose the state and win the White House. He supposedly said after receiving the returns, "Great crowds — no votes."

For all you future aspiring pundits, I suggest on election night November 2016 that you pay particular attention to two areas. The first is Cuyahoga County. This is where Cleveland is located. The other equally crucial place is metro Columbus (Franklin County).

Columbus is the biggest city in Ohio, with over 780,000 people. Obama won the state twice because he did so well there. Black voters are key to any Democratic win in the state. Twelve percent of the population is African-American, the exact same percentage as the nation. One downside for Democrats is the small Hispanic population. It is only 3 percent, while the nationwide percentage is nearly 17 percent.

Democrats have been getting nearly three-fourths of the Hispanic vote in recent presidential elections. Obama did very well with younger voters (almost 70 percent) and of course he increased turnout amongst black voters. Republicans do well in southern Ohio, the Appalachian region and rural areas.

John Kasich, a proudly moderate Republican, is the governor. He clobbered his Democratic opponent in 2014 and in 2010 he beat the Democratic incumbent, Ted Strickland. Kasich, I am sure, will say to anyone who will listen that his brand of Republicanism is the way to victory in Ohio. He also will be available for the vice presidential slot if he is not able to win the GOP nominations. His point will be that he won Ohio twice and having him on the ticket will secure the 18 electoral votes.

The two U.S. senators from Ohio are, I believe, an accurate reflection of the state's political profile. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownHouse panel to hold hearing on Facebook cryptocurrency project Democrats talk up tax credits to counter Trump law Facebook's new cryptocurrency raises red flags for critics MORE (D) is an outspoken populist who is staunch champion for working class and union voters. He has a record of beating very well-financed Republican opponents. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSenate investigation finds multiple federal agencies left sensitive data vulnerable to cyberattacks for past decade Senate panel advances bill to protect government devices against cyber threats House passes bill to establish DHS cyber 'first responder' teams MORE (R) is the picture of a moderate Republican. He is similar to his GOP predecessor, George Voinovich. Portman considered running for president this time but decided against it. He too, under the proper circumstances, could be a vice presidential pick.

Ohio used to have a license plate that said, "Seat Belts Fastened." Their plates in 2016 should read, "As Ohio Goes, So Goes the Nation."

Plotkin is a political analyst, a contributor to the BBC on American politics and a columnist for The Georgetowner.