Salena Zito

In the past year, Ohio has been fourth in the nation, and first in the Midwest, in job creation. In the previous four years, before Republican John Kasich became governor, Ohio ranked 48th nationally.

Context is everything. For example, Florida is fifth in the nation in job creation -- yet has 3.5 million more people in its workforce. If Obama's policies worked, wouldn't Florida be beating Ohio?

If Obama's policies worked, Ohio's job creation should be far behind that in states with much larger populations. Yet Ohio actually started coming back from the dead when Gov. Kasich started enacting sweeping reforms to eliminate the state's largest-ever budget deficit, stabilize spending and cut taxes by $840 million.

Those reforms initially caused Kasich to plummet in opinion polls, although recently he has begun to recover.

Obama led Romney, 46 percent to 42 percent, in a Quinnipiac University national poll of 2,577 voters released Thursday. The poll showed Romney outperforming Obama on the economy, job creation, gas prices and immigration; the president scored higher on women's issues and foreign policy. They were viewed equally on health care and taxes, with Obama considered more likeable.

As Obama passed through a quiet neighborhood here with neatly trimmed lawns and single-story homes set back from the highway, residents gathered on porches and in driveways to watch or wave at a passing president of the United States.

A church sign along the way warned: "Beware, the End Times are near."

It's not clear if that sign was intended as a harbinger of November's election.

Salena Zito

Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and columnist.