CBS News projects that President Trump will win Ohio, a state that he won by 8 points in 2016. The president expanded upon his 2016 margins with White voters without a college degree, according to CBS News exit polling.
In 2020, the president won this demographic by 35 points, according to CBS News exit polling. He won White voters without a college degree by 30 points in 2016.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden made significant gains with White voters with a college degree, defeating Mr. Trump by 12 points, according to CBS News exit polling. In 2016, Mr. Trump won that demographic by 25 points. But that swing was not enough for Mr. Biden to defeat Mr. Trump in Ohio.
CBS News exit polling also showed that Ohioans believe that Mr. Trump would do a better job handling the COVID-19 pandemic by a four-point margin over Mr. Biden. The poll showed that the disparity is larger when it comes to handling the economy. On this issue, Mr. Trump had a 14-point margin over Mr. Biden.
Trump projected to win Ohio
CBS News projects Mr. Trump wins Ohio, securing the state's 18 electoral votes. Ohio is a key battleground state, and one the president claimed in 2016.
CBS News estimates Ohio leans toward Trump
CBS News estimates Ohio moves from the toss-up category to leaning toward Mr. Trump.
CBS News estimates Ohio is a toss-up
After polls have closed, CBS News estimates that the presidential race is a toss-up Ohio.
Polls close at 7:30 p.m. ET and absentee ballots must be postmarked by November 2 and received by the county board of elections within 10 days after Election Day to be counted. Absentee voting and early in-person voting began on October 6 and ended November 2. Processing absentee ballots may begin before Election Day, but the counting of the ballots won't begin until after the polls close.
State of the race
Ohio has 88 counties, with nine that pivoted from voting for Barack Obama before flipping for Donald Trump in 2016. One of them is Trumbull County, which is in the eastern part of the state and home to the General Motors Lordstown plant that closed in 2019. Mr. Trump, after pitching an 'America First' economic message that resonated with Ohio voters, went to Trumbull County in 2017 and promised lost manufacturing jobs would return. "They're all coming back, coming back," he said and urged industrial workers, "Don't move. Don't sell your house."
Two years later, GM idled the plant when it stopped production of the Chevy Cruze.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton won just 8 of Ohio's 88 counties, including the metropolitan cities of Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. The cities recorded high numbers of absentee ballots requests, which favors Joe Biden.
But Mr. Trump turned in a strong performance in Ohio's rural counties in 2016 and soundly beat Clinton by 30 points among White voters without a college degree, according to exit polls. The latest CBS News poll showed that Biden had cut into Mr. Trump's margins slightly compared to 2016, with Mr. Trump holding a 25-point lead among White voters without college degree.
In the 2018 midterm election, Ohio didn't see the same type of suburban voter shifts that powered Democrats in other states to take back the House majority.
This year some Ohio Democrats are hoping to make inroads with suburban voters. In Warren County, outside of Cincinnati, the local Democratic Party chair doubts Democrats will win the county, but is encouraged by Democratic enthusiasm in the ground and is hoping they'll at least be able to reduce the president's margins. According to 2016 exit polling, Mr. Trump won by 15 points over Clinton among White voters with a college degree. CBS News polling shows that Mr. Biden has a 12-point margin over Mr. Trump among the same demographic.
The Trump campaign has touted its field operation in the state, noting in October that it's knocked on 3 million doors and has made 12 million voter contacts. The Biden campaign announced staff hires in the state in July, which is relatively late. It has prioritized virtual events and virtual relational organizing amid the pandemic.
COVID-19 is surging across the state; less than a week before Election Day, Ohio reported a record high of 3,590 cases in a 24-hour period, over 700 more than the previous high, Governor Mike DeWine's office said. Forty-three counties in the state are at a very high risk of exposure and spread.
CBS News latest polling shows 62% of likely voters in Ohio say the pandemic will be a "major factor" in their vote for president. Likely Ohio voters also believe Biden would handle the coronavirus pandemic better than Mr. Trump.
At a rally in Circleville, Ohio on October 24, the president declared the virus is "rounding the curve," but cases have risen in the state even the days since his rally. Biden has lambasted Mr. Trump's handling of the pandemic and told Ohioans at an event on October 12 that the president had "panicked" in handling the pandemic.
CBS News polling shows 46% of Ohioans believe Trump administration policies "deserve blame" for making the pandemic worse, compared to 35% who say the Trump administration "deserves credit" for its response.
The economy remains a top issue here and a recent CBS News poll shows a majority of Ohioans believe the president will do a better job than Biden on handling economic issues and protecting manufacturing jobs. Going into Election Day, 83% of likely Ohio voters said the economy is a "major factor" in their vote for president.
More likely Ohio voters also believe that the administration's policies will help the economy recover. By a slight margin, more said that a Biden administration's policies would make the economy worse.
Data from The Bureau of Labor Statistics says nationwide manufacturing saw job growth since the Great Recession, before stalling near the end of 2019. From September 2019 to September manufacturing lost more than 38,000 jobs.
At his rally in Circleville, Trump vowed to protect American jobs and attacked Democrats. "I will never let anyone rip off our great American worker," Mr. Trump said. "We're not going to let them rip it off and they have been doing that for a long time."
Biden argues the president's handling of the pandemic is causing rising unemployment. "Unemployment is way up due to the pandemic and the terrible way in which it's been handled. The economic outlook remains uncertain," Mr. Biden said in Toledo in October.