Crunch time in Ohio, as Obama, Romney blitz to get out the vote
Both campaigns are swarming Ohio, knocking on doors and making phone calls to potential voters. In these last crucial days, getting out the vote in what may be the deciding state of Election 2012 is paramount.
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With just days to go before Election Day, the race is too close to call – and suggests the possibility of a popular vote victory for Romney and an Electoral College victory for Obama. On Wednesday, the RealClearPolitics average of polls shows Romney ahead nationally by 0.8 percentage points. In Ohio, Obama leads by an average 2.4 percentage points in public polls.Skip to next paragraph
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As of Tuesday, the Romney campaign has knocked on 2.2 million doors and made 4.7 million phone calls in Ohio, the campaign reports.
The Obama campaign declines to provide specifics on door knocks and phone calls in Ohio. But maybe these numbers don't really matter, because effective GOTV is all about targeting the right people, not just the quantity of those contacted. And the numbers of "door knocks" include people who don't answer the door.
There's one number that Obama for America is happy to tout: its 130 field offices around the state, more than any other state campaign operation in the country. That's more than three times the 40 joint Romney-Republican National Committee "victory centers" around Ohio.
"We want to make it easy for anyone who wants to participate," says Aaron Pickrell, senior adviser to the Obama campaign in Ohio. The more offices you have, he says, the smaller the geographic area each one covers, making it easier for canvassers to bring a local touch to their conversations with voters.
"That's why we focus so heavily on neighbor-to-neighbor and door knocks," Mr. Pickrell says. "Talking to your neighbor is a way to break through."
Four years ago, Obama beat John McCain in the early vote with his superior ground game, as 30 percent of voters nationally cast their ballots early. This year, as many as 40 percent are expected to vote early. In Ohio, polls show Obama winning the early vote by a substantial margin, but Romney is winning among those who plan to vote on Election Day.
So even as the Republicans under Romney have ramped up their ground game, Obama and the Democrats, too, have stepped on the gas. They've had a significant head start, since Obama faced no primary challenger. His campaign could work on ground organization for the general election while Romney was still fighting for the GOP nomination, which he didn't clinch until May. In Ohio, an internecine battle within the state Republican leadership earlier this year also hindered organization, Republicans say privately.
The Obama campaign is confident it has a superior ground game nationally.
"We have been planning for this race and for these next two weeks for two years," said senior Obama adviser David Axelrod after the Oct. 22 presidential debate.
The Obama campaign also appears off to a big head start in Ohio in early voting. A Rasmussen poll taken Oct. 28 reports that among people who say they have already voted, Obama is beating Romney 62 percent to 36 percent. But the poll also shows Romney with a large lead among those who still plan to vote.
Early voting in Ohio became a highly charged issue when the Republican-led legislature ended it for the final weekend before the election, except for members of the military and overseas residents. Critics said the law could disenfranchise minority voters, such as those who take part in early-vote programs run by African-American churches called "take your souls to the polls" on the last Sunday before the election. The Obama campaign successfully sued, on grounds of equal protection.