Four years ago, even though Ohio went for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama won it outright in the fall over the GOP’s John McCain, when the Buckeye State by a margin of 51-47 became a pivot state in what are known as the “Obama coalition states,” a group of ten states that secured the election for a lanky guy with big ears from Chicago who surprised pundits and professionals alike by winning some states that hadn’t voted Democratic since President Clinton claimed them in 1996.
But four years ago, Ohio’s political landscape was as different as night is to day when compared to today. Then, all statewide offices save one was held by Democrats. Today, the reverse is true.
The current conventional narrative is that President Obama won’t be able to hold that same historic coalition together, given the steep uphill climb he’s had to make, especially on the economy and jobs.
According to election handicapper Steve Singiser, writing at Daily Kos, Ohio is the only state of the ten-states of the “Obama coalition” states that is truly a toss-up this year.
Here’s how he rates each of the big ten on whether they might fall Democratic or Republican:
1. Indiana: GOP +4.0
2. North Carolina: GOP +2.3
3. Nevada: GOP +1.7
4. Ohio: Obama +0.0
5. Iowa: Obama +1.3
6. Virginia: Obama +2.0
7. Florida: Obama +2.3
8. New Hampshire: Obama +5.0
9. Colorado: Obama +5.0
10. New Mexico: Obama +11.3
As Singiser, who once won a CNN-sponsored election predictions contest in 1998 and whose specialty is elections and campaigns, wrote, “…small shifts in momentum could pay huge dividends in this battle for the White House. If the GOP can pick up the slack to the tune of just 2-3 points, they’d win the White House with a 278-260 electoral college majority, picking off all of the ’08 coalition states except for New Hampshire, Colorado, and New Mexico.”
But while President Obama has had a hard road to get his ratings close to 50 percent again, Republicans have had their brand name tarnished considerably, and given the intra-party infighting the nation has watched over the course of about 20 debates starting last, the vindictive battle so far among the surviving GOP contenders Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich, who have each questioned whether any of the others is the true conservative the party wants, the outcome for Obama could, surprisingly, be even better than the last election, when the Electoral College posted 365 votes for Obama versus only 173 for McCain.
While Singiser calls Ohio, a state no Republican has won the White House without winning, a total toss-up, if the nation’s approval of the President’s continues to improve as polls are showing it has, he foresees even states that register Republican now could end up in Obama’s win column if recent polls in Arizona, South Carolina and Texas, showing Republicans with only a couple point lead, buckle for Obama.
In the most recent Gallup Tracking poll from Sunday, in the General Election, Obama beats Romney 45-43 and Santorum 47-42. If Paul is the GOP nominee, Obama wins by more than 8 points while Gingrich would lose by about 14 points.
According to a recent Quinnipiac poll for Ohio, Obama beats Romney 46-44 percent, but that’s within the margin of error making it a dead heat race, as Singiser claims it is.
The February 2012 report by PurplePoll, which focuses on a dozen states including Ohio that will decide whether President Obama is elected to a second term, shows Obama beating Romney by 4 points but only beating Santorum by 2.
Supporters of Obama have already held thousands of volunteer meetings, house parties, voter registration efforts, canvasses and phone banks, according to Jessica Kershaw, who spoke with Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Dan Sewell. “Regardless of the outcome of the Republican primaries, one thing is for sure — the Obama campaign has the strongest grass-roots organization of any candidate moving forward in Ohio,” Kershaw said.
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