With the election a little over a week away, both the Obama and Romney campaigns are focusing heavily on swing states, particularly Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia. Rasmussen has grandiosely labeled these states the “Core Four States.” With a combined 75 Electoral College votes, each one of these states is vital. Hence, President Obama and former governor Romney are focusing acutely on Ohio, the traditional bellwether of presidential elections, spending a combined $115 million on television ads — Obama $57M and Romney $58M — with more to be spent in the final days.
In the meantime, analysts look to the polls to try to predict the outcome on November 6. A poll published on Friday, October 27, by Purple State Strategy gave Obama 46% of the vote in Ohio to Romney’s 44%, with 8% refusing to answer or still undecided. Rasmussen Reports polled on Wednesday following the final debate, showing Obama and Romney tied with 48%, with 2% voting for another candidate and 3% undecided.
Aside from verifying that the race to win Ohio is going to be incredibly close, the predicative ability of these percentages is limited. To analyze the statistics more holistically, there are other considerations to keep in mind in order to assess who will win Ohio.
For example, research indicates that Obama polls low with white males nationally, a demographic that historically eludes the Democrats. As the 2010 census estimates that Ohio is 83.6% white and only 12.4% black, much of the Ohio result will depend on what percentage of white voters, especially males, Obama can usurp from Romney. Though Romney will win a majority of the white male vote nationally — some estimate that he will win upwards of 59% of this demographic, a number not seen since Reagan ran in 1984 — Obama does show some support from working class white voters. These Ohioans could throw enough support behind Obama to chip away from Romney’s hold on this electorate.
The question then comes down to how much of this large population of working class white voters Romney can count on. If this number teeters around just over 50%, Obama might not lose as much of the white vote as he will in other states.
This thesis hinges partially on the success or lack thereof of Obama’s ability to communicate his argument that his decision to support the massive auto industry with a federal bailout saved thousands of jobs. The federal bailout spawned one of Obama’s favorite campaign slogans: “Osama is dead. GM is alive." Considering the vital jobs that the auto industry provides in the region, it could carry a lot of weight in Ohio.
However, in the closing days of the election, the Romney campaign is attacking Obama's assertion that his actions prevented job loss. On Friday, Senator Rob Portman’s (R-Oh.) argued in an op-ed that Romney offered a plan to save the auto industry which was similar to Obama's but with less government intervention. The extent to which Romney’s campaign will be able to influence voters on this issue in the last week before the election is hard to decipher.
Finally, looking at the numbers again, over the past year polls have consistently shown that Obama has held a lead, however small. The Huffington Post tracked and tabulated 84 polls in Ohio from October 13, 2011 to October 25, 2012. Only 21.4% of these polls showed results where the candidates tied or Romney won Ohio. In fact, only 10 polls (or 11.9%) indicated Romney had a slight majority in Ohio. This consistency in polls across the year is difficult to ignore.
In addition, over a million Ohioans have voted early, where a total of 5.7 million voted in 2008. With early voters favoring Obama in crucial counties, this could give the president enough of a boost to carry the state.
Over the weekend, vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan spent Saturday at five different campaign rallies and meet-and-greets across central Ohio. Expect the rest of the candidates to make a habit of hurtling around Ohio before November 6. But unless anything drastic takes place, which is unlikely with less than a week remaining, Obama should be able to win Ohio. Winning the presidential election is another matter.