Car country goes blue for auto bailout

Car country played a big role in President Obama's re-election last night. Michigan and Ohio both benefited from the auto industry bailout and both went for the President last night.

President Obama won most of Ohio’s big cities last night, and a blue strip of counties at the top of the state. On one end is a Toledo Jeep plant. On the other, the factory where they build the Chevy Cruze. And, in between, thousands who work in auto parts suppliers. If the bailout had a galvanizing effect, it would be here.

“When you look at the things people were saying about how they felt after the auto bailouts. I think the effects on people’s livelihoods was dramatic,” says Bruce Belzowski of the University of Michigan.

Exit polls yesterday show a majority of Ohioans favored the auto industry bailout. Ohio actually has an unemployment rate now of 7 percent -- better than the national average of 7.9 percent. Many economists think far more Midwesterners would have lost their jobs if not for the government loans that shored up GM and Chrysler.

Then, there was that ad from Mitt Romney late in the campaign claiming, wrongly, that Chrysler was going to ship jobs to China.

“That really didn’t sit well with our members,” says Ken Lortz, the director for the UAW region 2B, which covers Ohio and Indiana. He says his members worked harder to elect Obama after that ad ran. But it’s unclear whether the ad changed any votes, or if it was a sign the Romney camp was worried about its fortunes in Ohio.

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