Why Ohio Will Decide the Presidential Election

As Obama's margins in swing states shrink to a hairbreadth or vanish altogether, Ohio has emerged as the President's firewall, its 18 electoral votes his best hope of stopping the surging Romney campaign from winning the White House.

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Brooks Kraft / Corbis for TIME (2)

U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden during a campaign rally in Dayton, Ohio

State of Saturation
If there is one thing all Ohio voters can probably agree on, it’s that the final day won’t come soon enough. Ohio isn’t just ground zero in the Electoral College. It’s also an epicenter for one of the biggest ad binges in history. The campaigns have forked over $177 million to win Ohio, more than any other state, according to an NBC analysis. According to recent reports, Romney and his allies will drop $12 million on television in the last week of the campaign; Obama and his allies will spend $7.9 million. In the Columbus media market, perhaps the most bombarded in the nation, the bile is ubiquitous.

“I feel like a baby at a rock concert. You just want to shut down,” says Ruth Milligan, a Romney supporter who the morning after the final debate was eating breakfast at Tommy’s Diner, a Columbus favorite with checkerboard floors and red vinyl booths. She sat with two female colleagues, each bemoaning the silliness of the final days, with the outsize emphasis on quips about Big Bird, binders and bayonets. “Leave us alone,” Milligan sighed. “How many undecided voters can there be?”

The answer is, Not many. Most polls here show that fewer than 10% of voters are still willing to change their mind, except perhaps on whether to toss their television sets. Commercials for local House and Senate races jostle for space with super-PAC spots and candidate contrasts. Political combat is pretty much the only product for sale on the airwaves.

In one typical commercial break during the evening news, a Democratic super-PAC ad blistering Romney for proposing to gut education segued into a Republican National Committee ad assuring voters that “it’s O.K. to make a change.” That bled into a Romney super-PAC spot that warned of “crushing debt” and depicted dejected voters hanging their heads and grimacing. “Demand better,” it said. Even for voters who unplug the television, there is no respite, given the ceaseless barrage of mailers, door knocks during dinnertime and as many as 10 phone calls each day from the two campaigns and their supporters.

Yet it’s hard to blame the campaigns for pulling out the stops. The whole election could come down to people like Judy Kamalay, a 60-year-old Obama volunteer from the outskirts of Columbus. She is a one-woman rebuttal to claims that enthusiasm for the President has plummeted. Until last year, she was a registered Independent, and she cast a ballot for George W. Bush in 2004. But when she lost her job in 2009, she chalked it up to Bush Administration missteps.

In January, she assumed an unpaid role as a “neighborhood team leader,” and as the election approaches, she has worked 40-hour weeks hosting near nightly phone banks in her tidy one-story home in a suburban subdivision. Obama, she says, “really speaks to my values.”

On a warm evening 14 days before the election, Kamalay sits at a makeshift desk in her foyer, surrounded by jars of markers and leaflets explaining the dos and don’ts of canvassing. Nearby, at Kamalay’s glass dining table, sits Sherry Kovach, a 59-year-old social worker. They have spent just about every weeknight together lately, and they like to joke that they “met over the Internet”–through a campaign social network. All the hours dialing leery neighbors has been grueling work. “I’m very passionate about this,” Kovach says, wiping a tear. “Ohio is the state.”

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71 comments
row1519
row1519

You certainly missed the message. There was no criticism of President Obama in my statement. As a matter of fact, if you check the postings for the past month or longer, you would see that I have been one of the most fervent supporters of the President.

LenSimpson
LenSimpson

This article saves me the gallon of gas it would take for me to vote.

ArmandWinter
ArmandWinter

How does Mitt Romney get away with laundering billions of unreported income in the Caymans through a bank owned by his church?

VegasIndependent
VegasIndependent

I have a series of blog posts on my Independent Investigations blog that deal with reasons why I and many others can not vote for Republican candidates and specifically Mitt Romney.  Reason #7 involves the fact that we just can not trust him because every word out of his mouth seems to be the opposite of prior words out of his mouth.  Feel free to visit the blog and click on the "follow" button to receive new posts as they appear.  Opposing views always welcome.

http://independantinvestigations.wordpress.com/

mickey66049
mickey66049

Actually, as I recall, Nixon won in 1968 w/o Ohio.

JuneBensinger
JuneBensinger

If Ohio's votes are to win  the Presidential election, why are the rest of us casting our vote?

DeeDee
DeeDee

Ohio will "decide the election" because our political system was created over 200 years ago, and it's completely outdated and ineffective. I say, if we don't change it before the next election for Hillary Clinton, that we all move to Ohio and make it a real election...for the first time in 200 years. For America to go around the world demanding Democracy when we don't have it here at home is an international joke.

PANATAG
PANATAG

IN CASE OF EMERGENCYBRGY SAN JUAN

MC ARTHUR HI WAY

BALAGTAS BULACAN

+HOT DEAL+DUTIES LOCAL OFFICIALS TO RELAY/ENFORCE MANDATE & DECLARATIONS OF AUTHORITIES*+PROGRAMS OF AUTHORITIES DUE TO VARIOUS UNSETTLED,INCOMPLETE MULTI CULTURAL ISSUES*+local officials are not authorized to FORCE MEMBERS TO SHOULDER OTHER MISTAKES CRIMES!

MissClarity
MissClarity

Ohio will not decide the election. Tagg Romney's voting machines will win the election. I just hope someone is on top of the dire situation.

MissClarity
MissClarity

Romney Bain has been attacking and destroying America from within. Bain buys, sucks the money out of, bankrupts American Companies and sends your jobs to China.

hamptonsweethearts
hamptonsweethearts

We will go backwards with the Romney/Ryan ticket....supporters of Romney/Ryan say don't blame Bush but think about it people, IF Romney/Ryan are elected? The same Bush/Cheney folks. This week Cheney will be attending a Romney/Ryan fundraiser and next week Bush will be attending another fundraiser for them. Do you really think Bush policies aren't coming back??? Romney doesn't have a backbone to stand up to his party or anyone else. He can't stand up to Akin (Mr. Legitimate Rape), Murdock (Mr. Rape is God's will and the ONLY senate candidate he endorsed to do an ad for).

C'mon people, there is more than 2 names in the Romney/Ryan ticket...it's the whole Bush folks. Romney is just a puppet to execute their plan. If you don't believe me then why can't Romney speak up when wrong is wrong instead of ignoring it hoping it will disappear. Heck, Ryan has more balls than Mitt Romney.

cageydog
cageydog

The democrat war on poverty is going great, poverty was @14% 50 years ago when it started, still @14% today. Hasn't helped anyone get out of poverty, even though 1 trillion dollars we spent on welfare last year, divided evenly among welfare recipients, would have taken every single one of them out of poverty. Then again, the war on poverty wasn't every really about getting people out of poverty, it was about getting the poor to vote for liberals, hence the results. Problem is that we have less than 10 years left where we can carry the entitlement levels we have now and it will all come crashing down. Politicians keep talking about putting the burden of this debt on future generations, in reality it is just around the corner. Will be interesting to see how priorities change when the country falls unto economic collapse. For calendar year 2013 the Congressional Budget Office predicts the follwing: Unemployment will exceed 9%, real GDP will  drop an additional .5% (from the already catastrophic 1.3% today) and we will be back in recession. 4 more years of Obama are not going to be 4 more of the same, things are going to get worse.

MacdonaldBank
MacdonaldBank

Religious Republican zombies are coming out of the woodwork -- descending on America! Scary or what?Romney; would be the equivalent to the Taliban -- in his treatment of women’s rights and the gay community -- with his extreme cultist attitude … if ever elected!Religion; is the biggest bully on the block!IRS codes prohibit churches from endorsing or opposing political candidates!The IRS … should immediately tax churches -- that break that rule!Churches -- are opposing gay rights -- based on a cult! Tax them or shut them down!Roman Catholic; Baptist & Mormon churches who were involved in Proposition 8; against the gay community – should be shut down immediately and/or have their tax exemption status revoked!Church manses; mansions; corporate jets and Christian college campuses … should face taxes or be shut down -- based on corruption and/or being involved in cultism!Mormons are nothing more than homophobic bigots and lustful religious lunatics; who harvested women … attempting to scrutinize themselves; into eternity – without success!Obama should be praised for standing up for human rights … by supporting the gay community! To see the religious lunatics try to manipulate government and our lives – isshameful.Romney as President; would mean the darkest & meanest period in the United States of America’s history. Homophobic -- witchcraft would rule the government from Rome & Salt Lake City …!

BarryOBama
BarryOBama

President Obama inherited the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War, and the War on Terror. He was elected following Bush's First Recession, and in the middle of Bush's Great Recession, the Collapse of the Housing, Financial, and Banking Industry that plunged the world into the Great World Recession. He faced rising unemployment and underemployment, as well as lower wages and record poverty. He went to work before he was inaugurated and job loss started going down right away. He pulled us out of recession, brought the GDP back up over 11% from a negative 9.5%, and cut underemployment over 2%, from over 10%. He put safeguards in place to prevent any more collapses and there were no fiscal disasters or economic crisis during his term. We have had economic improvement every month the President was in office from day one. Republicans are lying and twisting the stats to blame Bush's disasters on president Obama to avoid the stigma of Bush's failed economic policies that Romney has adopted.

Kapoor Aayush
Kapoor Aayush

Since Kennedy, whoever bagged Ohio took office...let us see.

HudsonValleyTim
HudsonValleyTim

Latest from Nate Silver show over 73% (and climbing daily) chance that Paulie and Rusty will have another four years of barking at the moon.

Ronnie_Matrix
Ronnie_Matrix

@TIME Ohio also if I recall impacted the previous elections so looks like we should brace our selves for the same drama.

clevelandirish
clevelandirish

Keep in mind that Ohio's SOS Husted was pretty much forced to mail out absentee ballot applications to every registered voter in Ohio. He originally proposed that zero absentee-ballot applications be sent to the counties because he wanted "uniformity". Cuyahoga County Executive Fitzgerald went ahead anyway because a good chunk of Cuyahoga County's population relies on absentee ballots. Husted was pissed, but then both Husted and Fitzgerald made an agreement where absentee-ballot apps would be sent to all 88 counties in Ohio. This was not Husted's original idea.

Ptaray
Ptaray

@TIMEComms @michaelscherer @BashirLive @TIME WOW! way to just drop to your knees Micheal. worshiping at the Altar of beltway Deception much

MrObvious
MrObvious

Hey Time, could you guys please have a MMR every single day - no need to waste your time adding to many things that we must read. It seems to be a great way of composting most of the rightwing nuttery into one thread.

Without it every single post now gets invaded by the same carpet bombing of unrelated subjects that happen to confuse righties - you know like squirrels running around.

I mean I don't care and my scroll button gets a lot of practice but there might be people who look at the link and hope for argument for or against the actual subjects.

ClaritaValle
ClaritaValle

@ArmandWinter YOU  are so wrong !  He paid regular taxes for his earned money, then  his Trust  invested that money  and on that Romney  pays low taxes because it is  THE SECOND BITE OF THE APPLE  that the GOV.  

takes.  An he does  not have billions .... and  he is not a baby killer 

-  ---     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZMjnxjddUg  ----Please Click on below : You must SEE THIS   ---

http://giovanniworld.wordpress.com/2009/01/24/obama-oks-killing-of-babies-world-wide/

PaulDerengowski
PaulDerengowski

@DeeDee You are absolutely correct.  The EC is antiquated and the voting system needs to be updated to reflect the times.  Otherwise, one state is going to continue to dictate the presidential election outcomes, meaning that 20 people are going to decide for 300+ million, which is not a Republic or Democratic form of government.

cal7912
cal7912

Ir is one poison or another:  If it were not for the electoral college, voters in the small states would be irrelevant and all the attention would be devoted to the big-vote states. 

Qt
Qt

You make a very good point. If you really relate people to who they associte with then I suggest that you watch Obama 2016.

I am not trying to change your vote Just watch it. I watched it with my girl friend and she is still voting for obama even though she found it disturbing. Ohio can watch it free for the next two weeks on payperveiw.

DebbieLeonardBordelon
DebbieLeonardBordelon

At this point in the game, the only response I'm going to give to this is GO ROMNEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

row1519
row1519

The sky is falling ! The sky is falling!......Boom!

row1519
row1519

Gloom and Doom again!

DeeDee
DeeDee

Hello Mister Ignorant...please don't forget that the Democrats have a 75% better record for job creation than Repubs since 1964. And we haven't destroyed two countries, put two wars on the U.S. credit card, and killed hundreds of thousands of people, including 4,000 soldiers, to get one man "in a rat hole" (quote from Ted Turner).

shalompaz
shalompaz

You spread hatred and fear just like your candidate, very sad!!!

Qt
Qt

That was cool!!

filmnoia
filmnoia

Not the previous election, but 2004. I have no doubt whatsoever that Kasich and his Sec of State have the "fix" in for Willard, as does the GOP Gov. in Florida.This is what the GOP is, a privileged club of white males. No one else need apply.

PaulDerengowski
PaulDerengowski

@cal7912 Just stop and think about what you just wrote.  It does not make one ounce of sense.  For not only is the EC vote determined by population, only certain states are focused on anyway by the candidates since certain states are already a bygone conclusion long before the election even takes place.

Again, the presidential election system needs to be completely overhauled and let the people decide who their leader is going to be; not just a bunch of political elitists who think they know more about the needs of the people than they do.  http://derengowski.wordpress.com/2012/08/24/the-process-of-electing-the-president-of-the-united-states/

cal7912
cal7912

All the "wait until 2016" stuff about Obama from the people who started saying four years ago "watch how this four years turns out."  It wasn't so bad, so now it's 2016.  Isn't "Obama 2016" a movie or something?  Too lazy to google it but it rings a bell.

jess524
jess524

Actually two thirds of the US troop deaths in Afghanistan have occurred under the Obama administration even though he has only been in office for four years compared to Bush's eight.  Along with that, the Afghani soldiers that we have been training are now killing our own soldiers.  Also 500,000 manufacturing jobs have left the USA since Obama was inaugurated.  On top of that, he just lied to all of the American people about what happened in Benghazi.  I realize that Romney is not a great pick either, but he is better than Obama. 

Piacevole
Piacevole

Well, he's been doing it for four years now.  Things are better than when he took office.

Would you like to provide some proof of your assertion that President Obama is a communist?

Qt
Qt

Really what about Condalisa Rice?

Piacevole
Piacevole

Condaleeza Rice isn't exactly the face of the Republican party, now, is she?  (And if you're going to cite her, at least spell her name correctly.)