Ohio: Obama wins; Mandel loses Senate bid

Ohio lived up to predictions as the ultimate swing state, with Mitt Romney’s presidential hopes rapidly focusing on the state as alternative victory scenarios involving Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan were foreclosed.  It was shortly after 11 PM when news agencies began calling Ohio, and therefore the presidential race, for Barack Obama, by a margin of less than 50,000 votes.  (At the time of this writing, 11:30 PM Eastern time, the Romney campaign has announced plans to dispute the Ohio call.)

In the Senate race, Republican candidate Josh Mandel lost to incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown, 45-50, after a dramatic narrowing of the polls late in the race.  Brown had been seen early on as a vulnerable incumbent, but his long experience in the House before winning election to the Senate in 2006 helped carry him to victory against relatively inexperienced (and very youthful) state treasurer Mandel.

The Republicans did manage to retain control of the state Senate, prompting a congratulatory message from Republican Governor John Kasich: “As Ohio works to advance and accelerate our recovery, I look forward to building on the strong working relationship that the Senate and I have built in the past two years.  Tough challenges still await us, but I’m confident that Ohio will be able to rely on the same steady, substantive and fair leadership that has been a hallmark of the Senate.”