With the presidential debates behind us and less than two weeks until Election Day, all eyes are on Ohio. A Rasmussen poll of likely Ohio voters conducted the night after the final debate shows the race tied at 48 percent in the crucial swing state. Three percent were undecided.
Last week and for most of the last month, the president has held a one-point advantage in the state. The Obama campaign has a very strong ground game in the Buckeye State. Ohio allows early voting, and among those who have already voted, the president has a 10-point lead. But that’s a smaller advantage than he had a week ago.
Ohio remains the largest Toss-Up in the Rasmussen Reports Electoral College projections. Currently, the president has a 237-235 advantage in the Electoral College. Ohio’s 18 votes are seen as critically important by both campaigns. There are six other Toss-Up states - Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Virginia and Wisconsin.
By a 51% to 44% margin, Ohio voters trust Romney more than Obama when it comes to the economy. That’s similar to the national average. By the exact same margin, voters in Ohio trust Romney more when it comes to energy policy.
While top party officials are suggesting that there is a path to victory without Ohio, historically, no Republican has ever taken the White House without winning the Buckeye State. The Washington Post breaks it down:
For the sake of argument, let’s take Ohio out of Obama’s total for the moment — although we still believe it is leaning ever-so-slightly toward him.
That leaves Obama with 237 electoral votes to 206 for Romney. (Romney’s total includes North Carolina, which we continue to believe he will win.) And, it leaves us with eight toss up states with 95 combined electoral votes. They are (from east to west): New Hampshire, Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado and Nevada.
Give Romney Florida and Virginia. (And, yes, we realize both states are very close and could go either way — but without winning those two the math becomes very tough for Romney.) He’s at 248 electoral votes. Add Ohio to that and he’s at 266 electoral votes. That’s the equivalent of electoral college layup for the win; Romney would only need to win one of New Hampshire (4 electoral votes), Nevada (6), Colorado (9) or Iowa (6) in order to be elected president.
On the other hand, assume Romney wins Florida and Virginia but loses Ohio. Now he needs 22 electoral votes to get to 270 — the equivalent, given the state of the swing states, of something between a three-point shot and a half court shot to win.
That’s because Ohio, despite population losses over the past few decades, remains one of the few swing state electoral vote treasure troves left on the map. Romney could win New Hampshire, Nevada and Iowa and still not equal the electoral votes he would get by simply winning Ohio.
To be clear: Even without Ohio (but with Florida and Virginia) there are paths for Romney to get to 270 electoral votes. (The most plausible? Win Colorado, Wisconsin and either New Hampshire or Iowa.) And, 30-foot shots do occasionally find their mark. (If there were any justice in the world, of course, Gordon Heyward’s heave back in the 2010 NCAA title game against Duke would have gone in.)
But, you’d rather have a layup to win the game than a 30-footer. That’s the difference between winning Ohio and not for Mitt Romney. And that’s why Ohio is the most important state in the country.
No pressure, Mitt.