Salena Zito

Evidence of Obama’s ability to win Ohio may be seen this week in Wisconsin.

“While the situation is not identical,” Siegel says, “it is a Midwestern ‘purple state’ that has a lot of labor people and blue-collar ethnics, so it may tell us something about the potential for Ohio.

“Right now, the tone of the race between Clinton and Obama is like a volleyball match,” he adds. “He tries to be specific as well as inspirational and she tries to be inspirational as well as specific.”

Beck believes that understanding voters and their issues is important but, in the end, it will come down to who Ohio Democrats think can win the general election.

“Remember, they have lost to (George) Bush twice by narrow margins in this state,” he explains. “They want a win, so the thing that looms large between Obama and Clinton right now is electability.

“One of the criticisms of the Clinton campaign has been that she has generated a lot of negatives” he says. “She may have maxed-out her welcome mat.”

Yet Beck warns not to expect a Clinton loss in Ohio to necessarily keep her from going on to Pennsylvania in April: “It would be tough, our voting patterns are very similar, but the Clinton family is very persistent.

“Plus," said Beck, "there is always the chance that Pennsylvania Democrats might be persnickety and put the stop to the Obama momentum.”

Salena Zito

Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and columnist.