As everyone likes to point out, no Republican has won the White House without taking Ohio. Not surprisingly, both campaigns are focusing on the Buckeye State with its 20 electoral college votes.
Republican candidate John McCain was here for a rally on Friday along with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who advised Democrat Barack Obama to beef up his legs and arms as well as his ideas. Obama is to appear at events in the three major cities of Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati on Sunday, and the vice-presidential candidates, Sarah Palin and Joe Biden, are also spending time in the state.
Obama leads by 5.8 points, 49.2 per cent to 43.4, in the RealClearPolitics average of polls. There is a suggestion that the race is tightening, but analysts describe the task ahead for McCain as a struggle.
“Every poll has shown Obama ahead in the last week,” says Paul Beck, professor of political science at The Ohio State University. “McCain will have to win a huge chunk of the undecided vote. That’s a difficult challenge.”
Beck gives three main reasons for the way the race has shaped up.
1. The Democrats started with an advantage because of the public’s dissatisfaction with President Bush for many reasons, including his domestic policies.
2. Obama’s success in selling himself as a credible alternative to sceptical independents.
3. The collapse of the financial markets. For the average voter, if anybody was to be blamed for this, it was the
Republicans, not only because they were in power but also because of their faith in deregulation, Beck says.
The economy is a big issue. The state lost 236,000 manufacturing jobs between 2000 and 2007, according to one estimate. The Obama campaign’s voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts may also make a difference. Traditionally, the Republicans have done better in getting their supporters to vote.
The Ohio Democratic Party has reached out to Asian Americans, including Indian Americans, says Preet Jesrani, Asian American Caucus Director. Indian Americans account for one-third of the 240,000 Asian Americans in the state, he says.
Kishan Putta of Indian Americans for McCain says, “According to our internal polls, the race is tightening. So we are
headed in the right direction. We definitely have a good chance if we keep our intensity up.”
Traditionally, the north and the northeast have voted Democratic, while parts of the South and rural areas tend to support the Republicans.
A record turnout is expected. And that could create its own problems.