Ohio again holds key to White House
MANSFIELD, OHIO — It’s all about Ohio — again.
The economy has improved here, and so has President Barack Obama’s standing, putting pressure on Republican Mitt Romney in a state critical to his presidential hopes.
No Republican has won the White House without winning Ohio, and Romney hopes to catch Obama here by slashing at his jobs record in working-class regions.
“America doesn’t have to have the long face it has had under this president,” he shouted Monday to a cheering audience in hard-scrabble Mansfield, just weeks after Obama visited. “We can get America rolling again, growing again.”
In a sign of the state’s importance, hardly a week goes without the candidates appearing in Ohio. Same goes for their running mates. Republican Paul Ryan was campaigning in the Appalachian southeast Wednesday, following a similar weekend trip by Vice President Joe Biden, who is to return to the state Wednesday.
Less than two months from Election Day, both parties say their internal campaign polling shows Obama with a narrow lead in Ohio, a Midwestern state that offers 18 Electoral College votes and has played an important role in determining every recent White House race.
Also, for the first time in four months, President Barack Obama scored a narrow victory over Mitt Romney in the campaign fundraising race.
Obama’s August total — more than $114 million between his campaign and the Democratic Party — marks the first time the president has out-raised Romney since his challenger secured the GOP nomination in April.
Romney’s haul — through a joint fundraising effort with the Republican National Committee — totaled $111.6 million. Both campaigns released finance figures Monday.
In Ohio, numbers tell the story of the high stakes and, perhaps, show why Obama has been able to maintain an edge — and why Romney remains within striking distance.
The candidates and supportive outside groups have spent a stunning $112 million on TV advertising in the state — one-sixth the total spent nationwide. And Obama and groups that support him have been outspending Romney and Republican-leaning independent groups here all summer, outpacing the GOP $2 million to $1 million last week alone.
That’s despite Romney having tapped into his general election bank account last week to boost his ads here.
A Quinnipiac University poll in April after Romney locked up the Republican nomination showed a 1-point race among registered voters in the state. But two recent polls — Quinnipiac/CBS/New York Times in August and July — showed Obama up 6 percentage points among likely voters, and reaching 50 percent, a key marker for an endangered incumbent.
Both Republicans and Democrats say internal surveys show it tighter now, with Obama leading by about 3 percentage points.