As President Obama and former governor Mitt Romney gear up for their third and last presidential debate this Monday at 9:00 p.m. from Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, a new development could yet again shift momentum in an increasingly close and bitter race.
Ohio’s unemployment rate fell to 7%, from 7.2% last month, even as the state's number of employed people also fell by 13,000 workers compared to August. Nonetheless, this is the last update on Ohio job numbers that the swing state’s voters will see before the Nov. 6 election, and the Obama campaign is happy to capitalize on it with a memo claiming that -- thanks to an advantage in early voting -- the president is likely to win the state in November (upsetting his challenger Mitt Romney, as no Republican has won the presidency without winning Ohio).
However, even Jeremy Bird, the Obama campaign's national field director, admitted Republicans are also claiming their own early voting advantages. “Republicans are similarly talking up their ground game and early vote numbers, but their assertions rest on much shakier ground,” said Bird, who hopes Obama's superior grass roots organization coupled with the unemployment rate drop will keep the state in the president's column.
The battleground state of Ohio has become even more critical after Republican challenger Mitt Romney bounced in the polls, closing the gap with President Obama both at the national level and in swing states, by decisively beating the president in the first debate. Obama supporters hope a more forceful performance by the president during the second debate will reverse or at least stop the Republican's momentum. In the meantime, they're clinging to whatever lead the president still holds in the swing states that will decide this election.
And it's not hard to understand why, at 15 days till Election Day, the Obama campaign is highligthing its supposed early vote advantage. The Real Clear Politics average of polls has the president leading Ohio by just 2.5 percentage points (48.1% to Romney's 45.6%). This is well within the margin of error and could shift one way or another depending on Monday's final debate. Still, Obama holds the ground advantage as his troops have been in the Buckeye State since the 2008 election and the Romney campaign opened its first Ohio office earlier this year, after finally clinching the reluctant Republican nomination. Stay tuned.