As of this moment, President Obama still maintains a slight edge in the state of Ohio. Throughout the election, Obama has maintained a fairly consistent lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney and the most recent CNN poll gives the president a three-point lead (though it is still within the margin of error). According to CNN’s Peter Hambry, the Democrats are also outperforming in early voting in Franklin County (Columbus) and Cuyahoga County (Cleveland). Obama has to run up the numbers in Northeast Ohio in order to offset the predicted strength Romney will show in southwestern Ohio (Cincinnati). Obama also had the advantage in that he is credited with the recovery of the auto industry, a very important sector to the Ohio economy and one of the largest employers of the state. As a result, Obama is polling on parity with Romney with blue-collar voters, a demographic where Obama is trailing by upwards of 20-30 points in other areas of the country.
There is some source of optimism in the Romney camp however. House Speaker and Ohio native John Boehner boldly predicted that the Romney/Ryan team will carry the state despite the auto bailout and Ohio’s junior senator, Rob Portman, argues that team Romney has the big ‘mo heading into election day. This may be just hype but given that Obama never broke out of the margin of error, they may have a legitimate reason to be optimistic.
But with all the attention that the national media is paying to the Buckeye State, one just has to ask: Why is Ohio even that important to begin with? In one word, this state is critical for any aspiring candidate. No Republican has ever won the White House without carrying Ohio and a Democrat has only won twice without Ohio; but that hasn’t happened in 52 years since the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960. On Tuesday we will find out if Ohio turns out to be the key to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as many news outlets are predicting it to be.