Ohio is equally important to both candidates despite the media focus on how important it is to Romney alone so both campaigns are pouring everything they have into the state. The Wall Street Journal takes a fair look at the relentless campaign stops across the state from both Romney and Ryan as they hope to replicate George Bush’s 2004 turnout that shocked political observers:
Mitt Romney is making a full-court press to win Ohio and taking a page from George W. Bush’s playbook to do so. Signaling the state is a must-have part of his strategy to win the White House, Mr. Romney and his running mate are returning again and again—Mr. Romney crammed in three appearances Thursday. Romney forces this week are spending more on advertisements in Ohio than in any other state. And they are deploying multiple messages in a state as diverse as the nation.
Romney aides believe Mr. Bush’s 2004 victory in Ohio gives them a road map to winning the state’s 18 Electoral College votes. One big factor is raw turnout and enthusiasm among the Buckeye State’s rural areas and social conservatives. The Romney team sees President Barack Obama’s win in 2008 as having more to do with depressed GOP enthusiasm for Sen. John McCain than it did a surge of enthusiasm for Mr. Obama. “In county after county, we’re looking to reactivate voters who were turned off by McCain but are now excited about Mitt Romney,” said Scott Jennings, the Romney campaign manager for Ohio. “If we can do that, we can win the state.”
“Game on” from Team Obama
Mr. Obama, who leads narrowly in most Ohio polls, is ceding no ground, continuing to highlight his rescue plan for the auto industry, a backbone of the local economy. His campaign has organizers in all 88 counties and is making a big push to take advantage of the state’s early-voting program. He traveled to the state Thursday for his 22nd political event there year.
The first debate turn
Mr. Obama’s lead has narrowed substantially since the first debate, with the president holding a 2.1 percentage point margin in the average of recent Ohio polls combined by Real Clear Politics, a nonpartisan website. Republicans say the state is in for a photo finish. Mr. Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, have crisscrossed the state several times over, with Mr. Romney holding 39 campaign events in Ohio during the general election and Mr. Ryan appearing at 22 events there.
The money wars
As Mr. Romney’s prospects in Ohio have improved, Republicans have poured more money into the state for advertising, according to a Republican official tracking the race. Mr. Romney and his allies will spend more than $12 million combined in the Buckeye State this week, more than any other state, compared to $7.9 million spent by the Obama campaign and its allies. During the last week of September, when Mr. Obama still led in nearly all public polls, Republicans were spending $6.2 million in Ohio, compared to $5.5 million for Democrats.
Different region, different theme
For both campaigns, the fight for Ohio amounts to a multi-front battle. The state’s industrial Northeast, especially Cleveland, is a Democratic stronghold. The rural counties in the south and west are solidly conservative. The auto industry dominates the northern tier of the state; the coal industry rules in the southeast. In northern Ohio, the debate over the auto-industry rescue is seen by Obama forces as a gift. It is an issue where the two candidates have clear differences, with powerful local impact. In southeastern Ohio, the Romney campaign is telling voters that Mr. Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency is hostile to the coal industry that some of them depend on. The Obama campaign has said that Mr. Romney, as governor of Massachusetts, tried to close a coal plant.
In other battlegrounds in the state, Mr. Jennings said the Romney campaign hopes to win back several key counties, such as Hamilton in the southwest and Lake in the northeast, that tipped Democratic in 2008 after previously being reliably Republican. It’s also pushing turnout in the conservative band of counties between Toledo and Dayton, where turnout for Mr. McCain was weak. Mr. Ryan plans to campaign there over the weekend. Perhaps most important, the Romney campaign needs to do well in heavily populated counties Mr. Obama is certain to win but where the GOP must narrow his margins, including Cuyahoga, home to Cleveland. Mr. Ryan traveled to that part of the state on Wednesday to give a speech on upward mobility.