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Voters focused on the economy, even in areas of recovery

March 06, 2012|By Alana Semuels
  • Voters cast their ballots at a polling station in an elementary school in Bowling Green, Ohio, on Super Tuesday.
Voters cast their ballots at a polling station in an elementary school in… (J.D. Pooley / Getty Images )

Reporting from Marysville, Ohio — Compared to the rest of Ohio, Marysville is booming. Honda of America recently announced plans to build a new version of the Acura NSX sports car near its gargantuan plant here. Unemployment in Union County, where Marysville is located, is just 6.2%. Union County was one of the few places in Ohio to grow in population between 2000 and 2010.

Yet business owners casting their vote in the GOP primary say the economy isn’t improving quickly enough, suggesting that even in areas relatively immune to the economic downturn, the specter of rising gas prices and uncertainty still looms large.

“We’re a little more protected here, but if you go down to some of those areas in Cuyahoga County, you can see what it’s done to people,”  said Ron Rhodes, 66, who is the part owner of a restaurant. Rhodes cast his vote for Mitt Romney, in part because he said the economy “isn’t that much better.”

Rising gas prices are keeping consumers from spending too much money, he said. Although he liked Newt Gingrich, Rhodes said he had to be pragmatic and choose the person he thought could best beat Obama, and perhaps speed up the recovery.

Nearly two-thirds of Union County residents voted for John McCain in 2008, indicating that this area could be a lock for whichever Republican wins the nomination.  

Kathryn Obenour, 46, placed her vote for Rick Santorum in a brick building next to a bustling Nestle facility. Obenour, who owns a delivery business, said she wanted to see gas prices fall, and that the only way to do that was open up the region to gas extraction and oil pipelines. Eastern Ohio is currently in the process of opening up lands to shale gas extraction, despite some opposition from environmentalists.

Many business people agreed with Daryl Ingram, the owner of a local funeral home. He said he voted for Romney “because he’s a business man.”

“I want to see them cut the deficit,” he added.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, elected in 2010, has embarked on a vast cost-cutting campaign, reducing an $8-billion deficit while cutting funding for local governments by 25%. But many in Ohio say they want to see more reductions.

They include college student Ryan Poling, 20. In his first election on Tuesday, Poling decided to vote for Ron Paul. He persuaded his grandmother to vote for Paul, too. 

“I just want to see government spending cut,” he said.

alana.semuels@latimes.com

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