President Donald Trump has again won Ohio, the Associated Press declared early Wednesday morning.
Trump led with 53% of the vote to former Vice President Joe Biden’s 45% in unofficial results at midnight with about 5.7 million votes tabulated.
Biden had led in early returns, which include absentee ballots either mailed or cast at early vote sites in the weeks before Election Day. Those tend to favor Democrats.
Trump took the lead a little before 10 p.m. and the major cable networks projected a Trump win around midnight.
At least 306,417absentee and provisional ballots were still outstanding early Wednesday morning. Those numbers will change as more counties finish reporting their results.
About 8 million Ohioans were registered to vote ahead of the election and officials estimated turnout could reach 75%. Final tallies are expected Nov. 18, after late-arriving absentee ballots and provisional ballots are counted.
Trump won Ohio by 8 percentage points in 2016, running up the score in Ohio’s many rural counties and winning the suburbs by comfortable margins. Biden’s challenge was to boost turnout in the state’s heavily urban areas and win over suburban voters, including Republicans who supported former Gov. John Kasich over Trump.
Trump improved in the Mahoning Valley and rural Ohio and lost a little ground in the suburbs, according to unofficial results. But Biden wasn’t able to make up the difference in the state’s urban centers.
“We had a great night in Ohio,” Ohio Republican Party Chairman Jane Timken said at a party watch party in the Columbus suburb of Westerville. “I continue to believe that Americans and Ohioans believe in the American dream and President Trump delivers the American dream for the future.”
Public opinion polls showed a close race in Ohio, within the margin of error, for the last few months of the campaign.
Ohio was more crucial for a Trump win – no Republican has won the White House without it. And an early-evening loss in Ohio might signal a flip back to the Democrats among other midwestern states such as Wisconsin and Michigan.
National pundits and, at times it seemed, the campaigns had written off Ohio as safely in Trump’s column. But both campaigns sent surrogates and beefed up get out the vote efforts in the last two months of the race.
Biden made a last-minute appearance in Cleveland on Monday afternoon, making the case he’ll be a better leader on COVID-19, jobs, foreign policy and more.
“I’m running as a proud Democrat, but I’ll govern as an American president,” Biden said. “I promise you I’ll work as hard for those who don’t support me as those who do. That’s the job of an American president.”