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The State to Decide it All

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Miami County’s Elections Director Steve Quillen abruptly resigned last week, citing that he couldn’t handle “the stress of the upcoming presidential election.”

Working for an election office in the state of Ohio, it isn’t hard to understand what Quillen refers to as “stress.”

While both the Romney and Obama campaigns have classified as many as 12 battleground states that will help decide the upcoming election, none may be more important than the Buckeye state.

President Barack Obama currently leads former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in Ohio, but just barely, with a 49-48 percent advantage according to the most recent poll.

The reverse is true in Florida, where Romney has a one-point advantage.  Florida carries 29 electoral votes, tied with New York for the third-most in the Electoral College.

Despite Florida owning 11 more electoral votes than Ohio, it is Ohio that is arguably more important to both campaigns, especially to Romney.

In the past 12 elections, every president has taken Ohio on their way to the White House and no Republican has ever won the presidency without also winning Ohio.

Many Democrats have seen Ohio as a very winnable state for the president because of the state’s unemployment, which is lower than the national average, and the impact of Obama’s auto bailout, credited with helping add over 52,000 jobs.

The Obama campaign clearly feels the same sentiments as their party, setting up 125 field offices across the state.

“We are ahead of where we were at this time against John McCain — and ahead of Mitt Romney,” said Obama’s national field director Jeremy Bird.

Losing Ohio would not only prove to be damaging for Romney, but it could very well cost him the election.

If Romney were to not win Ohio, he could win Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Iowa, Colorado and New Hampshire – and still lose.  This would happen if Obama were to hold onto his leads in Nevada and Wisconsin, two other battleground states that are still in play.

Just four weeks ago, Ohio seemed almost out of reach for the Romney campaign, as he trailed by almost nine points.

The tide has turned in recent weeks as Romney has been slowly gaining on Obama. The former governor has cut Obama’s lead by eight points, and four points from just a week ago. Republicans are now also more enthusiastic than previous, as 90 percent of Ohio Republicans say they will support Romney, up from five points from last week.

While Romney is enjoying an advantage with much of southeast Ohio, where he is garnering support from coal workers, he still must hold onto Hamilton County to help narrow the edge Obama is receiving from the Cleveland area.

Both candidates have invested a large portion of their campaign funds into Ohio, combining for over $109 million on television ads alone.

Yet, Ohio’s important role may not last much longer in upcoming presidential elections. Ohio’s 18 electoral votes is the least amount the state has carried in nearly 200 years. The last time Ohio represented under 20 electoral votes was in the presidential election of 1828, where Ohio had 16. Ohio has also lost electoral votes in every decade since 1960, when the state was responsible for 26 votes, or nearly 10 percent of the amount needed to win the White House.

Romney has visited Ohio 20 times in the span of his campaign, but has not announced when he will next visit. Obama, however, has already let voters know that he will be in Cleveland this Thursday, three days after the final presidential debate at Lynn University in Florida.




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