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The state of Ohio: Are recent economic gains helping struggling Americans?

While ten states will vote in next week’s Super Tuesday GOP primary, there’s one whose importance stands head and shoulders above the rest: Ohio.  Winning Ohio next Tuesday and then again in November is crucial. No candidate in the last 40 years has won the presidency without winning Ohio.

Over the last six months, correspondent John Larson and I have been regularly going to Ohio and reporting on the lives of four middle-class Ohioans.  Even though they all have regular jobs, own homes and cars, and by all outward appearances appear to be doing just fine in this economy, we’d argue that their experiences trying to survive will make it hard for any presidential candidate to really earn their support.

These four people share a deep sense of unease that something fundamental has changed in this country. I was raised to believe that you work hard, be a good citizen, do the right things, everything will be fine for you,” says Clyde Wilson, a manufacturing supervisor of over 40 years. “Now it’s not – it’s just gone.  I don’t know where it went. It just blew away.”  Cleveland public school teacher Lee Anne Chambers told us that she doesn’t think any political leader can understand what middle-class workers like her experience. “I don’t know if they can see it,” she says. “They live a lifestyle and a life where they never have to want for anything.  I don’t think they…could even come close to walking in my shoes or understanding what I’m going through.”

Just last week, we went back again to Cuyahoga County to revisit these four and bring you up to date on what’s happening in their lives, and how they’re viewing the presidential race. Here’s our update: