Both President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney made stops in Ohio this week, vying for the 18 all-important electoral votes that have helped decide 27 of the last 29 presidential races. Ohio continues to be a bugaboo for Romney; according to polling averages compiled by Real Clear Politics, he has never led in the crucial swing state, and the margin by which he trails Obama seems to be lengthening. But donâ??t abandon ship! Here are five things you should know about the Ohio race.
5. September saw one of the widest polling gaps between Obama and Romney…and one of the narrowest.
According to polling averages in Ohio, the race narrowed to within a percentage point during the first week of September. The gap between the candidates quickly widened again, and polls now show Obama leading by an average 5.2 percentage points, the widest margin he has enjoyed since April. So whatâ??s the good news here?
Thereâ??s still a lot of â??swingâ?ť in this swing state.
Political strategist Ron Bonjean of the Bonjean Company said that with T-40 days until the election, Romney has the time and the ability to give the people of Ohio a better idea of who he is and a chance to form a real opinion about him.
â??He has six weeks to bring those numbers up and he can so considerably,â?ť Bonjean said. â??A lot of voters still arenâ??t sure about how they feel about Mitt Romney.â?ť
This recent visit to Ohio was Romneyâ??s tenth since receiving the de facto Republican nomination in May; it shouldnâ??t be his last.
4. Ohio has not fared well under Obama.
True, Ohioâ??s unemployment rate is slightly lower than the national average, but Ohioans are certainly not better than they were four years ago.
According to an editorial published in The Hill by Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), the state has lost more than 66,000 jobs, with median income down by nearly $3,000 since Obama took office.
During this weekâ??s trip to the state, Romney and running mate Paul Ryan continued to push the message that their free market policies, particularly with regard to the stateâ??s energy industries, were best for Ohio business.
â??”Gas oil coal, renewables, all of the above. It’s here,â?ť Ryan said at a Tuesday rally with Romney in Vandalia, Ohio. â??We say yes to the Keystone Pipeline.â?ť
3. New message with staying power: we can beat China
Romney got tough on Chinaâ??s manipulative business practices on this weekâ??s visit to Ohio.
â?? … One thing I will do from Day One is label China a currency manipulator,â?ť he told crowds gathered at a wire manufacturing company in the state, according to Los Angeles Times reports.
At another stop in Westerville, he promised to crack down on ways the country was stealing American jobs.
State auto and manufacturing industries are struggling in part due to competition from Chinese counterparts who profit unfairly from currency manipulation and subsidies.
Visiting Ohio on Wednesday, Obama also talked China, hitting back at Romney for being part of a company that outsourced American jobs.
But Obamaâ??s record shows that even though he has talked a tough game on China, he has not been willing to use â??all diplomatic meansâ?ť to put an end to their undercutting practices, as he promised after his election.
2. If Romney does take Ohio, heâ??ll win the election–if history is a guide.
Winning wonâ??t be easy, but if Romney can pull it off, the worst will be over.
No Republican has historically won a presidential election without Ohio, which increases its material and symbolic value for the candidates.
â??Ohio is usually right in the presidential elections. Itâ??s usually a pretty good bellwether for the country,â?ť Kyle Kondik, communications director for the University of Virginiaâ??s Center for Politics said.
And the Romney camp maintains their internal polling numbers put the race in Ohio within the margin of error. This race is far from unwinnable.
1. Even if trends continue, Romney doesnâ??t absolutely need Ohio to win.
It will be a hard road to make it to 270 electoral vote without Ohio. But unlike must-win Florida, itâ??s doable. If Romney can claim swing state votes in Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, he can compensate for an Ohio loss. He can get there without Pennsylvania if he secures votes in swing states west of the Mississippi in New Hampshire. Difficult? Yes. Impossible? Not technically.