As President Obama and Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney gear up for the season's second presidential debate this Tuesday from Hosftra University in Hempstead, New York, pollsters continue to show a Romney surge not only nationally but also in swing states.
However, the one state that will probably decide the election, Ohio, still leans toward Obama even when the president has lost some ground to the Republican ticket on the heels of his disastrous performance in Denver.
The latest poll from NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist, which shows Obama leading Romney on Ohio 51% to 45%; while the Real Clear Politics poll average has the president ahead of his GOP rival in The Buckeye State by just 1.6 percentage points, a razor-thin lead that leaves no room for error as the president prepares to rematch Romney.
As shown in the Washington Post interactive map below, if Obama wins Ohio he will be 15 electoral votes short of the 270 he needs for victory, while Romney would be 64 electoral votes away if he loses it, even if he wins Virginia (13 electoral votes), Florida (29), Colorado (9) and Nevada (6).
However, if the former governor of Massachusetts wins these states and adds to his column Iowa (6) and New Hampshire (4) he still could walk into the Oval Office albeit with the narrowest of margins possible: 271 electoral votes, the same margin by which George W. Bush the presidency in 2000.
That's way both campaigns are so heavily invested in The Buckeye State at this point. Romney, who is behind in Ohio, is splitting his time between prepping for Tuesday's debate as well making the case to Ohio voters that he is surging nationally and in the swing states (he, after all, narrowed the gap with the president in this crucial battleground).
The goal of the Romney/Ryan ticket is to snatch Ohio away from Obama/Biden, a task increasingly difficult as August unemployment rate in this state was below the national average (7.2% to 8.1%). However, as evidenced by the way the race shook out of the first presidential debate, there's still time for things to move around and either cement the president's lead in this crucial state or putting Willard Mitt Romney in a decisive path to — as Republicans like to say — "take America back."