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Romney’s Ohio Problem

As I already noted earlier today, Mitt Romney continues to trail the President in Ohio, a state that no Republican who has been elected President has ever lost, and that makes his prospects for an Electoral College victory all the more difficult: 

Romney can win the White House while losing Ohio, but it’s hard to overstate how difficult that would be. If you play around with POLITICO’s swing-state map, you’ll find that if Obama wins Ohio and holds Wisconsin and Nevada (he is currently favored in all three states) Romney can pick up Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Iowa, Colorado and New Hampshire – and still lose.

Ohio isn’t the only reason why national Republicans are so pessimistic about Romney’s campaign right now, but it is one of the big reasons, and it’s why the Romney campaign’s continued references to national tracking polls are wide of the mark. Even if Romney managed to move the national campaign 2 to 3 points in his direction, it would probably leave him short of a win unless he improved his position in Ohio by a bigger margin.

And the reality is, the trajectory of the race in Ohio has been set in place for a while. When I wrote in August about the state of the campaign there, Romney was persistently down a few points and had allowed Obama to claim a populist space in the race that Ohio Democrats have exploited effectively since the 2010 elections. That hasn’t changed in the last month.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record: none of that means that Romney can’t win. What it does mean is that unless he changes the race in Ohio meaningfully and soon, it becomes extraordinarily difficult for Romney to win nationally. In the event Romney becomes president, his turnaround in Ohio will likely be one of the big stories of the last six weeks of the campaign.

This, quite obviously is that Romney and Paul Ryan are starting a multi-day bus tour of the Buckeye State that will take them to all of the state’s major population centers, including several areas that had been reliably Republican in 2000 and 2004 but went for Barack Obama in 2008. As NBC’s First Read notes, it may be the campaign’s last chance to turn things around in the state:

It’s hard to overstate it – this may be the make-or-break week for the campaign in the state. If this week’s bus tour doesn’t move the needle, as the Romney campaign might say, they very well could decide to all but write off the Buckeye State. They won’t say it explicitly; they’ll go through the motions, but they may have no choice than to try and shore up or make in roads in places like Wisconsin, Colorado, Florida, and Virginia.

Falling behind in Ohio, though, is likely to make things more difficult for the Romney/Ryan team in others states as well. It’s hard to see the ticket winning Wisconsin, for example, if they aren’t able to grab Ohio, which is made up of much the same white, working class, population that Wisconsin is. Without those two states, its nearly impossible for Romney to win even if he does somehow manage to win both Virginia and Florida. At that point, Obama would have 265 Electoral Vote and would win merely by picking one out of Iowa, Colorado, or Nevada, and he’s currently leading in both states. So, Ohio is another one of those states, along with Florida and Virginia, that Romney absolutely positively has to win if he’s going to have any chance at getting to 270 Electoral Votes.

As I noted this morning, RealClearPolitics gives Obama a +4.4 point advantage in the state, and Nate Silver gives the President a 75% chance of winning, up from 69% just a month ago:

The Romney campaign is obviously hoping for a turnaround in the state thanks to this bus tour and the media blitz that will accompany it. At the very least, it strikes me that the need to close the gap in the polls and slow down the President’s momentum in the state over the next week or two. Otherwise, with early voting set to begin statewide shortly after the first Presidential Debate, he could find the Buckeye State slipping from his fingers. At that point, the odds of victory nationwide are going to become fairly slim indeed.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Phillip says:

    61% to 39% was the vote to repeal Kasich’s union law. I wonder how many people in Columbus and Boston are wishing Kasich had held off a couple more years on the union busting.

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  2. Vast Variety says:

    Right now I don’t see Romney getting more than 239

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  3. michael reynolds says:

    I’ll go out on a small limb and say it ain’t happening. Ohio will go to Mr. Obama.

    The economy and the other issues set the stage for Mr. Romney to win, but an actor still needs to step out on that stage and woo the woo-ables. Mr. Romney has demonstrated rather convincingly that the more people see of him the less they like. He is such a bad candidate that there’a a surplus of vulnerabilities. He can be hit in so many ways, from some many directions, that I don’t know how Chicago makes up its mind what to target. Romney is a target-rich environment.

    I’ve maintained from early on that the idea of this being a referendum on Mr. Obama was nonsense. It’s always a choice between A and B. I’ve also believed and said that there was a narrative undertow favoring Mr. Obama — that people wanted to be wooed by him. They still want him to succeed. And it has been painfully obvious for a long time that Mr. Romney is worse than just a stiff dork. He’s an as$hole. He’s an as$hole up against a since and undeniably cool guy.

    It’s not about issues at this point. Romney has tried the economy and Obamacare and jobs and none of that has worked. He’s so desperate he thinks Libya will work. Or that he can exploit Obama’s unwillingness to let Bibi Netanyahu drag us into a war.

    Maybe if the GOP actually had a clue what to do about the economy. . . But all they’ve got is, “Remember how we fwcked everything up in 2007? We want to do that again. And we got this as$hole here who’ll do it.” I don’t see that as a winning campaign.

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  4. michael reynolds says:

    sincere.

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  5. PJ says:

    With all these, adjusted, polls showing Romney leading by almost double digits, I’m not sure why he’s wasting his time on a buss tour in Ohio?

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  6. Fiona says:

    I’ll be interested to see how the Ohio Desperation Tour 2012 works out for Mitt and his weasely Randian sidekick. Seems to be too little, too late in the game to me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  7. Moosebreath says:

    “buss tour”

    Freudian slip or typo, you be the judge.

    That said, Ohio was always going to be a tough sell for Romney. Next to Michigan, it’s the state where the auto bailout and Romney’s opposition to it were always going to be the biggest deal. And it’s doing better than the average state in terms of unemployment.

    And for those who think the polls are off, judge the true state by where the candidates are going and spending money. Contrary to Republican wishful thinking, they know PA is out of reach, and are spending no money on it. Ditto Michigan. Ohio and Wisconsin may be taken off the board soon, as well.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  8. mattb says:

    Doug, you lame-streamer… there is no problem. Ohio is a liberal psy-ops construct designed to conceal the undeniable fact that Romney is winning.

    I mean who really believes that Ohio exists outside of delusional liberal fantasies.

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  9. michael reynolds says:

    @Moosebreath:

    I don’t think they can take Ohio off the board. At that point they might as well take their campaign funds and send them to the Caymans. Rather I think the Romney people will just double down on attack ads. They’ll have nothing to lose.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  10. Me Me Me says:

    Romney and Ryan can drive around Ohio in their campaign bus honking its horn from now until Election Day for all I care. Here is their problem in a nutshell:

    Fox News Poll, Ohio, 9/19:
    If the election were held today, who would you vote for?
    Women: Obama 57 – Romney 34

    When Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a slut and the best Mitt Romney could do was say that wasn’t the word he would have chosen, the die was cast.

    It amuses that the Republicans are all over the news today saying that polls are vast left-wing conspiracies because they are over-weighted with self-described Democrat respondents; however, Republicans remain seemingly oblivious to the fact that you can expect maybe 9 or 10 more women than men to vote this November.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  11. Me Me Me says:

    @Moosebreath: It is interesting to note that there were at least three uncontested states where the Romney campaign ran attack ads but the Obama campaign did not respond with any advertising at all: New Mexico, Minnesota, and Michigan. What did Romney get in return for his millions spent? Obama’s numbers went UP.

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  12. Liberty60 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    they might as well take their campaign funds and send them to the Caymans.

    That wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

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  13. bookdragon says:

    I lived in Ohio for most my childhood, moving about every 3 years, so I’ve lived in cities (Toledo, Cincinnati) and smaller towns. My parents still live there. In 2008 the new subdivision behind their neighborhood looked like a big reservation of ‘for Sale’ signs. Today homes still aren’t selling quickly, but you only a few such signs spaced a few blocks apart.

    Things aren’t where they were, but they are significantly better, so the ‘Are you better off?’ question is only hurting Romney there.

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  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Fiona:

    I’ll be interested to see how the Ohio Desperation Tour 2012 works out for Mitt and his weasely Randian sidekick.

    Why do I have visions of Romney’s Foreign Policy Tour 2012? Probably because to Romney, Ohio is as foreign as England, Poland, and Israel.

    @Liberty60:

    That wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

    I’m betting they already have.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  15. Ron Beasley says:

    Digby says it well:

    But I have to believe this non-stop attack on Romney’s Bain background was the real put away.

    And the right wingers really can’t complain. They’ve spend decades trying to pry the white working class away from the Democrats and largely succeeded using cultural wedge issues. But this time they blew it. They nominated the little man on the Monopoly box for president at a time of serious economic angst. I still can’t believe they did it.

    Apparently they forgot that these guys may not like hippies and feminazis (and a lot of them don’t much care for blacks either) but if there’s one type they really, really don’t like it’s the wealthy owner who looks down on them. And that’s Mitt. He oozes it. After years and years of those guys coming to town and shutting down the plant and the factory and the warehouse and shipping the jobs overseas, there’s just no way they’re going to vote for one.

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  16. Andre Kenji says:

    No, I think that was obvious from the beginning that a former Private Equity guy would be vulnerable on the grounds of off-shoring jobs and being friendly to China. Lee Atwater or Ed Rollins would never left this flank unguarded. Republicans lost dozens of elections on these grounds and Romney is more vulnerable on this issue than the average Republican. He and his campaign should have predicted these kinds of attacks.

    By the way, the worst thing for Romney is that there is a possible scenario where Obama could win even if he loses VA, OH and FL. To me, Romney began to lose when he withdrew from Michigan and Pennsylvania.

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  17. mantis says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    They nominated the little man on the Monopoly box for president at a time of serious economic angst. I still can’t believe they did it.

    Rich Uncle Pennybags for president!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    Apparently they forgot that these guys may not like hippies and feminazis (and a lot of them don’t much care for blacks either) but if there’s one type they really, really don’t like it’s the wealthy owner who looks down on them. And that’s Mitt. He oozes it.

    Can I get an Amen Brothers and Sisters?

    AMEN!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  19. Latino_in_Boston says:

    It’s been a slowly moving map in favor of Obama, but I think now it’s pretty close to irreversible. In fact, I think that the debates have the potential to open up the possibility to an Obama landslide. After all these months of Romney non-sense with the governor reversing and then flipping back immediately or retroactively, can you imagine Obama being right there to call him out on it? I can see Romney self-destructing in a blaze of plutocratic disdain for those below him.

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  20. An Interested Party says:

    They nominated the little man on the Monopoly box for president at a time of serious economic angst. I still can’t believe they did it.

    This…this…this…a thousand times this…I wonder whose bright idea it was that this guy, of all people, would make a good presidential candidate during these horrible economic times when the villain is all too often someone just like Romney…Atwater and Rollins would have ditched this guy at the earliest opportunity knowing that he would be the wrong candidate at the wrong time…

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  21. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @michael reynolds:

    At that point they might as well take their campaign funds and send them to the Caymans.

    Actually, there’s a lot to be said for that idea…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0