Sabato's Crystal Ball

Ohio (16) House 2010

Crystal Ball Outlook: Leans R

Democratic candidate: John Boccieri, Incumbent

Republican candidate: Jim Renacci, Mayor

Recent updates from the Crystal Ball

Background:

Centered on Canton, Ohio, the land of manufacturing, football, and William McKinley, the Ohio 16th Congressional District was represented by Republican Ralph Regula for 36 years. However, upon the retirement of Regula, Democrat John Boccieri scored a convincing victory over Republican Kirk Schuring, Regula’s handpicked successor, by a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent in 2008. The DCCC invested large amounts of money in Boccieri’s campaign in 2008 in the hopes of winning a seat that had eluded Democrats for 58 years; conversely, the NRCC basically gave up on the seat in the weeks leading up to the election, and Boccieri ended up out-fundraising Schuring by over half a million dollars.

The 92% white Ohio 16th has been a reliably Republican district over the last decade, with Regula winning 18-terms from the district, George Bush garnering 56 percent of the vote in 2000 and 54 percent in 2004, and John McCain carrying the district with 50 percent of the vote in 2008. However, job losses in the manufacturing sector have troubled the district, and John Boccieri was able to become the first Democrat in 58 years to win the Ohio 16th, and he did so by emphasizing fair trade and the protection of American workers.

2010 challengers include former Wadsworth, Ohio Mayor Republican Jim Renacci and 2008 Republican candidate Matt Miller. Beyond government spending and healthcare, jobs and unemployment will be major campaign issues, especially with the manufacturing focus of Canton, and, also given the fact that Ohio’s unemployment rate is ninth highest in the nation.

While Republicans will surely do their utmost to win this seat back, Boccieri’s convincing 2008 win combined with his positions on pressing district issues, his fundraising edge, and the fact that Democrats will do everything possible to retain this hard won seat. This seat is a Toss-Up.