There’s a reason that Ohio is a bellwether.
Since last Wednesday’s debate, Mitt Romney has gotten a boost in the polls. He has taken a marginal lead in national surveys and has narrowed a gap with President Barack Obama in Ohio, which has voted the way the nation has in the last 12 presidential elections.
Could it only be a temporary bump?
Ohio could be the state that tells if Romney’s gains are only for the short-term or if there indeed has been a fundamental shake-up in the presidential contest.
What could restore the wider advantage the president had in polls before the debate?
For starters, Ohioans have had an easier time finding jobs post-recession. For the third consecutive month, Ohio’s August unemployment rate stood at 7.2 percent. Since January, the state has not seen rates above 8 percent, and its unemployment has fallen from its peak much faster than the national average.
Combined with its connection to the reviving automobile industry, an aggressive early advertising campaign by the president’s team and union membership in the workforce reaching almost 14 percent, the polling data favoring Obama has been understandable.
However, as the campaign moves farther past last week’s debate, if Romney continues to narrow the gap, or even take a lead in the Buckeye State, it could become more evident that the results of one night’s performance can reshape an entire election, altering the viewpoints of a key state, regardless of its demographics.
There also are two more presidential debates (Oct. 16 and 22) before the Nov. 6 election.
The Romney campaign has been energized by the strong reviews of his first debate — with opinion polling finding he did a better job by margins of as much as three-to-one. Romney campaigned across Ohio today. “Victory,” his campaign has e-mailed supporters, is “in sight.”
Robert Gibbs, a senior adviser to Obama’s campaign, said today in an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that they expected a tightening race from the start. The president, widely panned for his first debate performance, plans to “bring a different game” to the next debate, Gibbs said. The “fundamentals” favor the president, he maintained.
Ohio will test which campaign is getting it right.
Sam Kussin-Shoptaw is a legislative regulatory specialist for Bloomberg Government.