COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Mitt Romney won most of Ohio geographically, while President Barack Obama won where the most votes were to win the pivotal battleground state again.
The Democrat racked up votes in Ohio's major urban/industrial areas, and Republican Mitt Romney carried nearly everywhere else. Obama was able to take the 18 electoral votes he and Romney fought so hard for by winning its most populated areas.
He carried the six biggest counties in terms of votes, and eight of the top 10. He won two-thirds of the vote in the biggest cities, according to exit poll results for The Associated Press and the television networks.
That was enough to offset strong showings by Romney in GOP-dominated suburbs and rural areas. Romney won about five of every six counties statewide.
With all precincts reporting unofficial returns, Obama won by more than 107,000 votes, or nearly 50.2 percent, of 5.4 million votes cast, according to Ohio Secretary of State tallies.That was down from 2008, when he carried Ohio over John McCain with 51.5 percent of the vote, more than 262,000 votes ahead of the Republican.
Obama's support of federal help for an auto industry bailout was a game-changer, said the GOP state chairman, Bob Bennett.
"The biggest determining factor was that we couldn't handle the automobile bailout issue," Bennett said Wednesday. "That's where we significantly underperformed."
Voter samples indicated wide support for the Obama-backed auto bailout, helping an industry with plants and thousands of jobs in the state. The Romney campaign had made a late effort in Ohio to undercut Obama's support on that issue, with Romney emphasizing his long ties to the auto industry in Michigan and pro-Romney ads belittling the president's efforts as helpful to China.
Union voters who normally make up a bigger chunk of the presidential electorate in Ohio than in other swing states favored Obama 60 percent to 38 percent, indicating not only support for the auto industry bailout but lingering fallout from the 2011 move by Republicans to restrict collective bargaining for public employee unions. Also, Ohioans whose families make less than $50,000 a year supported the president by a 3-to-5 margin, exit polls showed.
Bob Rockenfield, 70, of Cincinnati, voted for Romney, but said Wednesday he felt Republicans are "just not getting across to people."
He thinks Obama won Ohio because of his appeal to union workers and minorities, "and also playing up that Romney was this country club rich boy and he was for the middle class."
Frank Hocker, 67, a retiree who once worked at a truck manufacturing plant in Springfield, said he wasn't a single-issue voter, but Obama won his praise for helping the auto industry.
"When Obama stuck his neck out and did the right thing with General Motors, you know, that satisfied me," Hocker said.