During the campaign season, Ohio has been a favorite stop of the nation’s journalists, seeking to probe the moods and minds of voters in what has been touted as a swing state crucial to victory in 2004. While most of the stories have focused on the economy and jobs, there’s another key issue playing out in the Buckeye State: faith and values.

Today, the Toledo Blade’s James Drew wraps up a three-part series exploring the influence of religion and culture on Ohio voters.

In Ohio, as elsewhere around the country, the disagreements over values — between left and right, secularist and fundamentalist — is deep, writes Drew. He quotes state Sen. Jim Jordan, a Republican, as saying the “values debate is central to this election” in Ohio and across the nation. The issue worked for George Bush in 2000; whether it will prove as successful this time around is another matter.

Drew draws on polling data and voting returns, as well as interviews with national experts and local political, religious and cultural leaders to paint a detailed picture of the disparate views that people hold as to the role religion and values should play in policies affecting American life.

As Campaign Desk has noted before, some of the best political reporting coming out of Ohio is the home-grown variety. While that shouldn’t be surprising, it is refreshing.

Susan Q. Stranahan

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Susan Q. Stranahan wrote for CJR.