The election all came down to Ohio. And the question was whether Republican Mitt Romney could build up enough of a margin in rural and exurban counties to overcome President Obama’s advantage in Ohio’s cities.

Romney couldn’t.

The chart above tells us how the two Presidential candidates fared in rural, urban and exurban counties Tuesday. You can see that the Republican did build up nearly a quarter of a million vote lead in Ohio’s rural and exurban counties.

That wasn’t enough. According to preliminary counts, Obama won 344,000 more votes in Ohio’s cities and won the state by just over 100,000 votes.

Romney won 55.8 percent of the vote in exurban counties (these are counties that are within metropolitan regions, but where about half the people live in rural settings). And he won 57.6 percent of the vote in rural counties, building a 17.4 percentage point advantage there.

But the President’s 9 point advantage in the cities was enough to overcome the exurban and rural vote.

Get used to this pattern. You’ll see more of it today and Friday as we go through the vote in the swing states.

One other thing: The vote was down more than a quarter of a million from 2008 in Ohio. That’s a decline of 4.5 percent from ’08 to ’12. The rural vote was down by just over 5 percent; 53,000 fewer votes were cast in rural counties this year compared to four years ago.

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