Political Science professor predicts outcome for Ohio’s presidential primary

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In eight days Ohio voters finally get their turn to go to the polls and cast their ballots for the 2008 presidential primary. WOSU spoke with a political scientist to talk about what the results of the Ohio primary could look like.

“Ohio for the first time in years is going to have high turn out primaries particularly on the democratic side and that’s exciting,” Paul Beck said.

Beck is a political science professor at Ohio State University. Beck said early in the game it did not look like Ohio would make a difference in the race for the White House. But he said that’s changed.

“I certainly never thought that we’d be sitting here talking about March 4, and a March 4 primary in Ohio that really was going to be very important in determining the outcome of the nomination process,” Beck said.

When it comes to which candidates will win the Ohio primary Beck said it’s pretty simple – at least for the GOP contenders.

“I think McCain will win Ohio, clearly. I think that will put him over the top in terms of delegates,” Beck siad.

Republican Senator John McCain is 273 delegates away from securing the Republican nomination. If he wins Ohio he’ll be 88 delegates closer. Beck said predicting a Democratic winner is not as easy. He said Democratic Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton do not differ a lot in terms of policy. So Beck said ambivalent voters will likely pick their candidate based on another important issue.

“I think the most important other factor is can they win in November. Are they really viable? Are they our best nominee?”

Right now Clinton has a slight lead in the Ohio polls. But Obama won the last ten states. And Beck said Ohio voters will take in to account Obama’s0 momentum.

“I think the polling results are very fragile. And I think we gradually, again barring any big event that comes and it’s not going to be a primary or a caucus we’re through those events until March 4, but barring that I would expect Obama to close the gap, close it quite quickly and quite likely win the Ohio primary,” Beck said.

The Democratic Debate is slated in for Tuesday in Cleveland. One-hundred-sixty-one delegates are at stake for the Democratic candidates in Ohio.