Swing State Series: Ohio

By Nick Davis

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It’s Election Day in America and arguably the most important state for either candidate’s campaign – Ohio - lies in the hands of the few undecided voters. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are making their final pushes all over the country, which undoubtedly includes the Buckeye State.  Obama holds a slight edge over Romney according to the latest RealClearPolitics poll of averages, leading by 2.9% of the vote. However, more recent polls including the final poll conducted by the Columbus Dispatch, indicate the race may be even closer with Obama just two points ahead and within the margin of error.

If you’ve been keeping up with the political commentary lately, it should come as no surprise that many pundits believe Ohio to be absolutely critical for both campaigns, especially Mitt Romney’s. No Republican has ever won the presidency without Ohio and it seems this election is no different. While there are other scenarios where Romney could conceivably win the White House, Ohio is important due to its large amount of electoral votes -eighteen.

In the last two elections, Ohio favored both parties choosing Obama in 2008 by a margin of 4.6% and 2.1% in favor of George Bush in 2004. Both candidates are hoping to ride the state’s prediction record and each is fighting to the very end. Each campaign brought in big name entertainers on the eve of the election.  Predictably, Bruce Springsteen was on tour with Obama like he has been for several weeks but he had an additional star at his side at the 11th hour, hip-hop mogul, Jay-Z. Romney was joined on his stop by the Marshall Tucker Band.

Mitt Romney has tried to make the election in Ohio a referendum on Obama’s economic record. He has promoted his own economic and tax policies while criticizing the 7% unemployment report for the state in the month of September. Obama had a broader platform in Ohio. He touted his plan for the economy while criticizing Romney for his stance on abortion rights and energy policy.

After last night, there’s nothing either candidate can do now but sit and wait as voters across the country head to the polling booth. We’ll know as soon as tonight whether Ohio will continue its streak of winners.

Here’s to the next four years.

Still Too Soon To Tell

The not-Romney candidates have proven time and again they have staying power. Even after a decisive victory by Romney in Illinois (which was expected), Rick Santorum had just as strong a showing in southern states. Newt Gingrich, struggling to pay his bills this week, has promised to stay in the race, even if it means running his entire campaign by himself.

Given the amount of time and money that Mitt Romney is having to spend to fend off his erstwhile Republican nominees, some are expecting the 2012 general election to be relatively more easy for President Obama to be reelected. For Republicans this almost seems like snatching defeat from the jaws of victory when just a few months ago the President’s approval ratings nearly dropped below 40%.

Although Obama’s approval ratings are on the up and up, American presidential elections are not decided by the popular vote. I would still bet Obama if I were in Vegas, but there is little room for error in his campaign and much potential for the GOP to win the election through the Electoral College.

The math is relatively simple: if Romney can take McCain’s 173 votes for 2008, and add Republican leaning states and toss-ups, this is a close race.

For example, Virginia, North Carolina, and Indiana typically lean Republican, and were picked up by Bush in 2000 and 2004. So let’s give those to Romney, bringing him to 212.

Ohio and Florida are big toss-ups, also won by Bush in 2000 and 2004, and would bring Romney to 261 electoral votes (Florida has gained 2 votes since 2008). Not quite to 270, but damn close. And there are a lot of states left in play: Iowa, Colorado, Nevada, etc.

Obama currently holds a statistically solid lead in most of the aforementioned states, but it is likely that lead will shore up in those states once a clear candidate emerges from the GOP and the race gets underway.

There is a lot of time and opportunity left in this election season, and while Romney will have to battle to win states like Ohio and Florida, it is not outside the realm of possibility. There are factors and events yet that might sway the American electorate, but above all, we should remember that you cannot call a November election in March.