Bellwethers Ring for Clinton and McCain

Ohio and Rhode Island bellwether communities are pointing to Hillary Clinton and John McCain as the respective winners in Democratic and Republican primaries, according to research on election eve conducted by Suffolk University and released today.

Key Ohio counties


Two Ohio bellwethers – Morgan County and Greene County -- showed Clinton winning. Clinton led Barack Obama 63 percent-to-33 percent in the smaller Morgan County, and she led Obama 52 percent-to-41 percent in Greene County, almost exactly mirroring the 52 percent-to-40 percent statewide Democratic poll released yesterday. Although bellwethers are not currently designed to depict margins, they have been remarkably accurate at outcomes. 

John McCain led Mike Huckabee 54 percent-to-29 percent in Greene County and 51 percent-to-34 percent in Morgan County. 

The Center’s analysis was made using a new election predictor module based on a number of statistical indices, including statewide polling and bellwether geographic areas, first employed successfully with the New Hampshire Democratic Primary, the GOP Florida Primary, and the Democratic Primaries in California, Massachusetts and Tennessee. 

“A cautionary word or two: Past bellwether performance is a guide but not a 100 percent guarantee of future performance,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. “New bellwethers oftentimes are created as people migrate, depending on the election cycle, the candidates and local endorsements.”

Rhode Island bellwethers


In Rhode Island’s bellwether, Providence County, Clinton led Obama 50 percent-to-36 percent while McCain topped Huckabee 61 percent-to-32 percent. 

For Rhode Island, the Suffolk University Political Research Center’s Providence County matched the same statistical test: The last two times a non-incumbent was on a presidential preference ballot in Providence County, the bellwether area mirrored the exact order of finish statewide and was within 4 percent for the top three vote-getters in each party. 

In the Ohio bellwethers, only the 2000 Democratic and Republican primaries were used, as the 1988 results were not officially tabulated by county, just by election district. Those boundaries changed after the 1990 census. 

On Jan. 29, 2008, the Political Research Center’s Florida bellwether, Hillsborough County, almost exactly matched the statewide Republican Primary results. On Jan. 8, 2008, the New Hampshire Presidential Primary bellwether towns – Kingston and Sandown – predicted a Clinton win in the Democratic Primary, while no other leading indicator in the country had Clinton winning. The bellwether analysis also was an added tool used successfully by the Center in both the 2006 Massachusetts Gubernatorial Democratic Primary and general election.



Suffolk University interviewed 300 likely voters from each of the three counties. A random select of all available registered voters with phone numbers was used as the core sample, which did not include newly registered voters. The execution of the identification interviews was by live telephone call. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310.