As Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan crisscrosses Ohio on a bus tour aimed at appealing to crucial female voters, and the polls continue to show an increasingly close race in the state that could decide the election, both the Romney and Obama campaigns are going the extra mile to project confidence and convey the advantages each camp says it has going forward.
And the latest Rasmussen poll of likely Ohio voters confirms just how nerve-racking close the race is in the Buckeye State (and, as a result, in the country). The survey shows President Obama and his Republican challenger former Governor Mitt Romney tied at 48% each, with 3% of respondents saying they will vote for a third party candidate (Gary Johnson, anyone?).
But the group that could decide the election is the tiny slice of Ohio undecided voters which, according to the Rasmussen survey, comprise only 2% of the electorate in that state. And, though it is hard to imagine who could be undecided this late in the race, this group of voters is the one both candidates are going after with their frantic 11-hour pitches.
President Obama is banking on early voting, which the campaign says it has a significant advantage on, to boost confidence. A recent Time magazine poll shows Obama holding a 2 to 1 advantage over Romney (60% to 30%) among those hitting the voting booth prior to November 6. The president is also counting on Ohio's economy, which is relatively better than the rest of the country -- with unemployment below the national average and a revitalized manufacturing sector thanks to the auto bailout.
Romney, on the other hand, is betting on the growing momentum the Republican campaign says the former governor of Massachusetts and CEO of private equity firm Bain Capital started after the resounding victory during the first presidential debate on October 3, which is universally acknowledged as the race's ultimate game-changer. "We need a big change" and "I'm the candidate of change," have become Romney's war cry in the last days of the campaign.
As the cliché goes, no Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio. This is a motto Democrats like to repeat as it suggests Romney will be unable to reach the 270 Electoral College votes necessary to clinch the White House if Obama ends up winning in Ohio. However, conservative pundits such as Fox News' Dick Morris and PolicyMic's own expert John are touting potential scenarios where Romney could become president even without winning Ohio.