Feature

Ohio: The state that’ll decide the election

As the election enters its final days, Obama and Romney are pleading for Ohio’s votes “with the insistence of a determined suitor.”

“I am not sure whether to be congratulating you or consoling you if you happen to be reading this in Toledo,” said Nate Silver in The New York Times, but the final two weeks of the presidential race are going to be all about you. No candidate has won the presidency without winning Ohio since 1960, and given the realities of this year’s Electoral College map, it’s very hard to see how either President Obama or Mitt Romney will be sworn in next January unless they win Ohio’s 18 electoral votes. It was Obama’s healthy 6- to 8-point lead in Ohio that had many pundits writing off Romney’s candidacy in late September, but since the president’s disastrous first debate performance, his lead there has shrunk to a mere 2 points. It will all come down to Ohio’s white, working-class voters, said David Wolfford in The Weekly Standard. Obama is counting on his bailout of General Motors and Chrysler to win their support. But these are also the same socially conservative voters Obama once dismissed as “clinging to their guns and religion,” and they aren’t comfortable with the Democrats’ liberal policies on gay marriage, abortion, and other social issues. So as a very close election enters its final days, Obama and Romney are pleading for Ohio’s votes “with the insistence of a determined suitor.”

Obama’s lead in Ohio has shrunk, said John Cassidy in NewYorker.com, but it’s not gone. The Obama campaign knew all along that Ohio’s blue-collar voters would be pivotal, and was running ads portraying Mitt Romney as an out-of-touch, factory-closing plutocrat before he’d even won his party’s nomination. The GOP nominee has done his best to fight back, but “polls suggest that all the money and manpower that Romney has thrown into Ohio haven’t yet made much of a difference.” Ohioans credit Obama with saving the auto industry, said Jerry Hirsch in the Los Angeles Times, which accounts for 12.4 percent of the state’s jobs. More than all the ads and campaign stops, that single piece of policy alone may “determine the next president.”

The auto bailout may not bail out Obama, said Rosalind Helderman in The Washington Post. The brightening economy in Ohio has, ironically, changed the focus of many conservative-leaning voters to “federal spending and the rising tide of red ink.” Voters once again are in the mood for a change. In 2008, said Josh Jordan in NationalReview.com,Obama won the state by only 4.6 percent, based on a “healthy lead among independents and a highly enthusiastic base.” Independents now favor Romney, and Republican voters have the clear edge in enthusiasm. So a late surge could put Ohio in Romney’s column—and propel him into the White House.

It’s all going to come down to momentum, said Glenn Thrush and Jonathan Martin in Politico.com. Romney’s campaign is convinced that, like Ronald Reagan in 1980, he’ll ride “a late-breaking, decisive wave” that will carry him to victory in Ohio and several other battleground states, including Virginia, Florida, and Wisconsin. Obama’s team is playing defense, bringing in Bruce Springsteen and Bill Clinton to campaign in Ohio, and hoping to eke out a narrow victory in the state with a strong get-out-the-vote effort and a late flood of negative TV ads. Romney, the ads say, “is not one of us.” If Ohioans agree, Obama gets a second term. If they don’t, “he’s toast—and Chicago knows it.”

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