By Justin Sink and Keith Laing -Â The Hill
Even as the GOP nominee has inched ahead in polls of swing states like North Carolina, Florida and Colorado, Romney has been unable to crack Obamaâ€™s slim but steady advantage in polls of the Buckeye State.
Both candidates have acknowledged the importance of Ohioâ€™s 18 electoral votes to their chances, and plan to spend much of the campaignâ€™s home stretch crisscrossing the state in a final push for undecided voters.
â€œOn Nov. 6, Iâ€™m counting on Ohio to vote for big change,â€ Romney said Thursday at a rally in Cincinnati, a GOP stronghold. â€œWe need to make sure Ohio is able to send a message loud and clear: We want real change. We want big change.â€
Ohio is considered the most crucial swing state in the country because of the Electoral College. If the president wins Ohio and Wisconsin, Romney would likely need to sweep nearly all the remaining battlegrounds to win the White House â€” a scenario that most election forecasters say is unlikely.
Romney has been campaigning hard in the state, flooding the airwaves with ads that blast the president for threatening the coal industry. Heâ€™s made repeated trips to Ohio with running mate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), and plans at least another dozen rallies in the state before Election Day.
To win Ohio, Romney is likely going to have to build on his lead with the stateâ€™s white voters, a bloc that he is carrying resoundingly in other parts of the country.
While Romney is winning white voters nationally by a margin of 53-39 percent, according to a recent IBD/TIPP poll, he holds only a 49-44 advantage with that bloc in Ohio, according to a SurveyUSA poll released this week.
And while nationally the candidates split evenly among white voters who have not attended college, in Ohio the president holds an 8-point advantage with that group.
Democrats argue Obama’s support for the auto bailout, a still strong union organization in Ohio, and a particular sensitivity by manufacturing workers to Romney’s private-equity background have combined to toughen the terrain for the Republican.
But GOP officials say Romney is quickly erasing Obamaâ€™s lead in Ohio, and argue there are encouraging signs for him in early and absentee voting.
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