With the average of the polls in Ohio tied going into the election, the mood in Ohio seems to be behind Republican candidate Mitt Romney. After having 30,000 people attend a rally in Cincinnati over the weekend compared to 2,800 for President Obama in Hilliard, Ohio, the enthusiasm and visible support appear to be giving Romney an edge.
There were major Romney events in Ohio today, and recently the Romney campaign announced that it will hold a “get out the vote” (GOTV) event in Ohio on Tuesday. Usually, candidates hold a Monday evening event in an important state, and then return home to vote on Tuesday and watch the returns from their headquarters or home base. The Romney campaign either sees an opportunity in Ohio to take the state, or sees it slipping away, and recognizes the importance of being here on Tuesday to make the extra effort.
Throughout the state today, there are GOTV rallies at victory centers featuring state leaders and celebrities. These are smaller events, energizing and uplifting volunteers and those most dedicated to the cause.
The pollsters continue to disregard the models from 2010, and use 2008 models to project Ohio’s turnout and outcome. Despite Ohio’s having all Republican statewide office holders with the exception of Sen. Sherrod Brown, as well as a Republican legislature, President Obama’s campaign seems to believe that Ohio is still his “firewall.” Intelligence guided by experience would lead someone to ask, “how can that be?”
Ohio is a swing state, and by definition a swing state has a large number of independents who could break for either candidate. In polls, Romney is leading with independents by double digits. With a reasonably equal number of Democrats and Republicans in Ohio, and the independents breaking for Romney, how can the Obama team be confident in an Ohio victory?
On Fox News Sunday yesterday, Chris Wallace explained to David Axelrod that the Ohio absentee and early voting is also in Romney’s favor, despite the Obama campaign’s reports to the contrary. Wallace explained that 557,177 Democrats have voted early — down 154,911 from 2008. In addition, 480,843 Republican have voted early — up 108,345 from 2008. This is a swing toward Romney of 263,256 votes, assuming that Democrats are voting for Obama and Republicans are voting for Romney. This margin wipes out Obama’s 262,224 vote win in Ohio from 2008. Axelrod’s response was a meager, “We’ll know in two days…”
While the Democrats have claimed to have a better ground game, Republicans have been focusing on individual contacts. Volunteers are calling voters who have requested absentee ballots to make sure their ballots have been returned. Volunteers and campaign staffers are going door to door to ask, in person, that the voters in the household get out to vote for Romney. At call centers throughout the state, the Romney campaign has been identifying Romney voters in preparation for election day. Tomorrow, poll watchers will be able to send details to call centers throughout the day via smartphones and tablets regarding who has voted and who has not. That information is then processed by the call center, and people who were previously identified as Romney voters will receive reminder phone calls until the poll watchers see they are checked off of the rolls as having voted. It is an extensively detailed system that will help GOTV for Mitt Romney.
Provisional ballots cannot be counted for 10 days, but the Romney campaign is pushing to make sure that those who requested absentee ballots have returned them in time. Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, and others, are concerned about Ohio’s provisional ballots since the final margin could be small. There is a possibility that we will not know who won Ohio until close to Thanksgiving — all the more reason for Romney to make sure his supporters turn out on Tuesday.
With independents breaking for Romney and all of the work the campaign is doing, it is certainly possible for Romney to carry Ohio — but, prepare for a long slog before the state can be called unless the margin of victory is larger than the total number of provisional ballots.