Every list of key states in presidential election includes Ohio
Road signs at the border of this Ohio suburb should read: “Welcome to Strongsville, ground zero of the 2012 presidential election.”
“The results of who wins this election run straight through the Main Streets of suburban Cleveland towns like Strongsville,” said Dave Paleologos, director of polling at Suffolk University in Boston.
As the campaigns of President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney head into their final eight days, the candidates and their running mates will focus their attention on a few states — New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nevada, Colorado, Virginia, Florida and Ohio.
When polls close on Nov. 6, Paleologos will look to Cleveland's suburb as the bellwether of who will win the White House.
Strongsville Mayor Tom Perciak says the town is home to a mix of blue- and white-collar families. Small manufacturers such as Fay Industries, whose steel service center supplies the military and other industries with metals and tools, co-exist with corporations such as Vitamix, a maker of blenders.
“I would say party affiliation is split evenly, with a huge independent block of voters who normally tend to vote Republican rather than Democrat,” Perciak said.
The race now becomes a mathematical equation to calculate which states might provide the necessary 270 Electoral College votes to win, said Bert Rockman, a Purdue University political science professor.
Ohio and Colorado have emerged as the potential deciders, Paleologos said.
“Keep an eye in Colorado, in suburban Denver, in Jefferson and Arapahoe counties,” he added.
Most states vote either reliably Democrat, such as New York, or reliably Republican, such as South Carolina, leading nominees to those whose electorates can swing either way. Two big prizes, Florida and North Carolina with a combined 44 electoral votes, are leaning toward Romney, polling shows. Five others Obama needs — Virginia, New Hampshire, Iowa, Colorado and Nevada, with 38 electoral votes — are among those too close to call.
During the past week, Obama's lead was narrowing among states considered solid or leaning toward one candidate or the other, said Jeff Brauer, an electoral expert at Keystone College in Towanda.
“This has been playing out with Obama having roughly 230 to 240 electoral votes purportedly in the bag, to Romney's 190 to 200,” he said.
Though the president led in Ohio, which every president since 1964 has won, Romney narrowed the race to a tie late last week in Suffolk University's poll.
With Florida and North Carolina trending toward Romney, the president needs Ohio, Wisconsin, Nevada and New Mexico to make up those combined 44 electoral votes, said Kyle Kondik, an analyst with the University of Virginia.
“Romney has to win Ohio or Wisconsin; Obama needs to win both,” Kondik said.
Some experts reduce the list of states in play to seven — Wisconsin, Iowa, Nevada, Colorado, Virginia, Florida and Ohio — but every list includes Ohio.
Those states will earn the money and attention from the candidates and surrogates who include Vice President Joe Biden and Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, said Brauer.
“We saw some of this pandering in the final debate, with the focus on the Navy directed towards Virginia and the focus on Israel directed towards Florida,” he said.
The campaigns spent $177 million in Ohio and $174 million in Florida, Brauer said, noting: “So far it looks like Ohio is ‘that state' once again. ... And, of course, no Republican has won without Ohio.”
Like Paleologos, Brauer points to Colorado as the potential decider. Obama visited Colorado 11 times this year and Romney held his largest event in suburban Denver at Red Rock Amphitheater, drawing more than 10,000 people, according to news reports.
“Since it is important, in most winning scenarios, for both Romney and Obama, it could ... trump Ohio as the pivotal state of the 2012 election,” Brauer said.
Obama's most likely path to victory is through Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa. If he wins all three, the election essentially would be over, said Brauer. “Replacing Wisconsin or Iowa with Colorado also works,” he said.
The key for Romney, Brauer said, “is to sweep the three southern swing states — each of which Obama won in 2008 — Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina.” If he secured those combined 57 electoral votes, he would need “a couple of the other swing states to achieve victory. Obviously, Ohio would be very helpful but this is also an instance where Colorado could be key.”
Even states the Obama campaign once counted on, such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Minnesota, might become battlegrounds, said Kondik. Polling in those states shows that Romney has cut Obama's lead in half from about a month ago.
On a recent call with reporters, Obama senior adviser David Axelrod was adamant when asked about Minnesota and Pennsylvania. “Will we win some states by the same margins as last time? No. But in about every case in those battleground states, you'll find conflicting polls,” Axelrod said.
Because the president's job approval rating has not risen above 50 percent, Curt Nichols believes the economy remains the issue influencing most Americans.
“Blue-collar voters in the Midwest likely will decide this election,” said Nichols, a political science professor at Baylor University in Texas
In “sleeper” states such as Pennsylvania, Nichols said, “most poll results are still calculated using turnout projections that may be too favorable to Obama. If the 2012 electorate does not turn out like it did in 2008, most polls will overestimate Obama's percentage of the two-party vote by 2 or 3 points.”
Undecided voters typically break against the incumbent in the final days of a race, he said.
“So, if three days before the election an accurate poll says the candidates are tied 48-48,” Nichols said, “you can expect that the vote will be closer to 52-48 for the challenger, rather than 50-50.”
In Strongsville, neighborhood strolls reveal more yard signs for Romney, Perciak said.
“The general consensus I have gotten from townspeople who voted for Obama in 2008 is disappointment in his performance and a growing respect for Romney,” he said. “That is coming from Democrats, independents and Republican voters,” he said.
Salena Zito is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Former Steelers LB Haggans to do time in Westmoreland jail
- Crosby banned from Jets game because he missed All-Star Game
- LeBeau won’t join Cardinals coaching staff
- Pittsburgh cracks down on overcrowded houses
- Pine-Richland’s DiNucci to Pitt; Kittanning’s Bowers opts for PSU
- Cal U professor who died in campus office was lawyer, civil rights leader
- Owner of Italian Village Pizza stores gets house arrest for tax evasion
- Tanker crash closes lane of Turnpike in Penn Township
- National Weather Service to evaluate work after missed call on storm
- Emergency room visits decline as navigators steer patients to proper medical care
- Rossi: Crosby’s debt to NHL paid in full