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The Suburbanite
  • Romney dominates in Stark suburbs

  • Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney won the Ohio primary last Tuesday with a lot of help from suburban Stark County voters in Jackson Township, North Canton and Plain Township.

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  • Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney won the Ohio primary last Tuesday with a lot of help from suburban Stark County voters in Jackson Township, North Canton and Plain Township.
    Romney won more than 44 percent of the vote in those three communities.
    Candidate Rick Santorum won more rural areas like Marlboro, Lexington, Paris, Tuscarawas and Sugar Creek townships. The problem for Santorum: there were more voters in the suburbs.
    Overall, Romney won the county over Santorum 40 percent to 35 percent. The other two remaining candidates in the race — Newt Gingrich, who got 15 percent, and Ron Paul, who got 9 percent — weren’t even close.
    In Stark’s largest cities, where Democratic voters tend to far outnumber Republicans, Romney won Alliance, Canton and Massillon.
    Both Romney and Santorum had pockets of support throughout the county. Romney won roughly 157 precincts and Santorum got the most votes in about 113 precincts. They both tied in 10 precincts. Romney won by narrow margins in Plain and Perry townships and Canal Fulton, while Santorum won suburban and rural Lake Township by less than two percentage points.
    “Sounds to me that the patterns we saw in Stark County were similar to what we saw statewide,” said William Cunion, a political science professor at the University of Mount Union. “In the areas where you have a lot more people of higher income, certainly more educated areas like Jackson Township and North Canton, you see Romney with huge margins in those areas, and that’s what we saw in statewide exit polls.”
    Cunion said Santorum tended to do well with rural, socially conservative and working-class voters.
    The professor said that based on past history, if Romney, who has the delegate lead, becomes the nominee, he expects many of the voters who backed Santorum to support Romney in the general election in November. He said in 2008, the voters who cast ballots for Hillary Clinton in the primary came out to vote for Barack Obama in November.
    Romney may have also been aided by local establishment support. Several Stark-area Republican officials endorsed Romney including U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth, former congressman Ralph Regula, State Rep. Kirk Schuring, R-Jackson Township, Stark County Auditor Alan Harold and North Canton Mayor David Held. Romney’s two Stark co-chairs are former Stark Republican Chairman Curt Braden and Stark Republican Vice Chairman Jane Timken.
    Romney was the only candidate to visit Stark County during the campaign. He visited the Gregory Industries plant in Canton Township the day before the primary.
    Overall, voter turnout in Stark County on Tuesday was 22 percent. That’s far below the 51 percent turnout in the 2008 March presidential primary when Barack Obama faced Hillary Clinton in the Democratic contest.