October 18, 2012

Ohio the Most Crucial Part of Obama’s Four-State Firewall

Romney clearly has Buckeye State momentum, but how much?

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This post went up in slightly revised form at Watchdog.org earlier today.

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Since the first presidential debate between incumbent President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney on October 3, the nationwide momentum shift towards Romney has been unmistakable. It’s now to the point where, according to Major Garrett at National Journal, the Obama campaign appears to be putting a firewall around just four states in hopes of ensuring his reelection: Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and, as seems the case in every allegedly close presidential contest, Ohio.

Philip Klein’s electoral map at the Washington Examiner on October 12 showed a very plausible election scenario which would result in a 269-269 Electoral College tie. His map shows Romney winning Iowa and Nevada, but losing New Hampshire and Ohio. If Klein is right, a Buckeye State victory is absolutely indispensable to a Romney electoral vote win.

One must careful with polling data this year, especially because of evidence showing that the percentage of potential respondents actually completing surveys has dropped to just 9 percent from 21 percent just six years ago. Because of this, the degree of the momentum change is and will be hard to peg and even harder to be confident about until the polls close and the votes are counted on Election Day.

That said, a nationwide Gallup poll released on October 17 gave Romney his largest lead to date at 51 percent to 45 percent. If Obama had a similar lead with Gallup this late in the contest, the establishment press would be declaring the race over and Romney finished. Actually, they were saying that without any legitimate justification during just about all of September and during the first few days in October, until Romney’s stellar performance and Obama’s virtual no-show in Denver altered the trajectory of the race more than any other debate in my lifetime, including John F. Kennedy’s makeup-driven debate win over Richard Nixon in 1960.

Gallup’s polling was done before the second presidential debate took place on Tuesday night at Hofstra University. Some contend that Obama stopped most of the bleeding which began at the first debate, but I don’t think so. Though the President scored some points, many with disgraceful moderator assistance, the fact remains that most post-debate polls gave Romney a significant edge on substance in every major area except foreign policy, which was roughly a draw.

America’s evaluation of the Obama administration’s foreign policy performance has nowhere to go but down. That’s because of the tragic debacle in Benghazi, Libya, which thus far has included:

  • The death of Libyan ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans;
  • The disgraceful invention of protests which never occurred at the attacked U.S. Consulate, supposedly over a video which virtually no one saw or cared about until the administration began looking for causes other than terrorism;
  • A pack of administration-driven lies about the nature of the attack, with Team Obama doing everything it could to avoid officially acknowledging that it was terrorism until September 20;
  • Internal bickering and public misrepresentations about the quality of the pre- and post-attack intelligence, even though the intelligence community without dissent says it knew that it was a terrorist attack virtually immediately;
  • And finally, the inexplicable and inexcusable drawdown of security in that country during the months before the attack.

Meanwhile, the economy is only marginally improving at best, and whatever improvement is occurring only looks good because the past 3-1/2 years have been so absolutely awful. The recent possible uptick won’t change the fact that we’ve seen the worst economic stewardship by a president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt needlessly lengthened the Great Depression by eight years before World War II.

How does all of this specifically affect the outcome in Ohio? Here’s my take:

  • Evidence that Obama’s campaign is very worried about holding the Buckeye State is apparent in its recruitment of former president Bill Clinton and musician Bruce Springsteen to appear here. Springsteen originally said he wouldn’t campaign for anyone this year, so he must be concerned too. Springsteen’s presence may backfire if enough people remember that he and Obama endorsed the thoroughly discredited Occupy movement, and have never withdrawn their endorsements.
  • The crowds at Romney events have been huge in recent weeks. Obama? Though the press has been low-key in disclosing Obama’s crowd sizes, it’s clear that the 2008 thrill is gone.
  • Most Ohioans aren’t buying the Obama campaign’s absurd notion that the state is outperforming most of the rest of the country economically because of the auto bailouts. They know that it has occurred because Buckeye State Governor John Kasich has managed the state’s finances in a fiscally responsible way while avoiding tax increases. Obama’s fiscal irresponsibility is without precedent.
  • I believe that the administration’s war on coal has moved the southern and eastern rural areas of the state from reliably Democratic to either 50-50 or slightly favoring Republicans.
  • As it will throughout the rest of the nation, Obama’s foreign policy failures in Libya will hurt him in Ohio.

Remember that Obama only won Ohio by 4.6 points in 2008. There’s no way he will improve on that. Instead, it seems likely that he will lose to Romney this year by that margin or slightly less.

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