The latest NBC/WSJ/Marist poll gives President Obama an eight-point lead in Ohio, and the RealClearPolitics average shows Obama ahead by 5.5 percent. Obama beat John McCain in Ohio by 4.8 percent, and if we are to believe these polls, President Obama is on track to beat Mitt Romney there by an even wider margin — despite the down economic indicators and a lack of excitement for the president.
But that’s not going to happen.
With a month to go in this election, the one real performance indicator we have for Ohio — early absentee ballot requests — shows Republicans have narrowed the gap since 2008 in every county on record in the state.
Two of the most populated counties, Franklin and Summit, are on track to narrow the gap 10 percent and 27 percent, respectively. College professors in Ohio who have begun to keep track of this county data have shared it with my organization, American Majority Action (AMA).
In 2008, there were 1,158,301 total absentee ballots requested: 33 percent were requested by registered Democrats and 19 percent were requested by registered Republicans — a 14-point gap. So far in 2012, only 638,997 ballots have been requested, 29 percent by Democrats and 24 percent by Republicans — only a five-point gap.
The Republicans have shrunk the gap nine percent overall since 2008, but the numbers are even more dramatic in Ohio’s key counties:
Champaign County: Was +3% GOP, now +23% GOP – 20-point shift
Columbiana County: Was +9% DEM, now +9% GOP – 18-point shift
Crawford County: Was +3% DEM, now +12% GOP – 15-point shift
Cuyahoga County: Was +36% DEM, now +30% DEM – 6-point shift
Erie County: Was +24% DEM, now +7% DEM – 17-point shift
Franklin County: Was +5% DEM, now +5% GOP – 10-point shift
Greene County: Was +4% DEM, now +19% GOP – 23-point shift
Harrison County: Was +22% DEM, now +5% DEM – 17-point shift
Hamilton County: Was +7% GOP, now +13% GOP – 6-point shift
Licking County: Was TIED, now +16% GOP – 16-point shift
Montgomery County: Was +29% DEM, now +5% DEM – 24-point shift
Muskingum County: Was +1% DEM, now +16% GOP – 17-point shift
Pickaway County: Was +12% DEM, now +15% GOP – 27-point shift
Seneca County: Was +1% DEM, now +13% GOP – 14-point shift
Summit County: Was +33% DEM, now +6 DEM – 27-point shift
Wood County: Was +10% DEM, now +1% GOP – 11-point shift
The five largest counties in the Buckeye State have all shifted toward the GOP by at least six percent (and as much as 27 percent) since 2008. While the polls show Obama ahead in Ohio, these ballot request numbers suggest that Mitt Romney is in a much better position there today than John McCain was four years ago.
Dr. Larry Schweikart, a professor at the University of Dayton and a New York Times bestselling author, tells AMA, “So far, although it is early, the overall across-the-board direction of every single county in Ohio seems to be not just challenging the pollsters’ template that Obama is widening his lead but is obliterating it. And, although it is early, we will soon be at a point where — assuming Republicans vote for Romney — the Dems will have to overwhelmingly win all the remaining early voting just to be even on November 6. But, given Ohio’s voting history, if the numbers are even close after early voting, Obama will lose, and possibly lose big.”
Some on the left will blame Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted for this Republican trend. He’s made a big push to streamline and increase absentee voting, favoring older and generally more conservative voters. However, absentee turnout doesn’t seem dramatically different so far from 2008.
What has changed are the voter rolls in Ohio. Husted has removed 490,000 deceased voters and duplicate registrations from the rolls. The vast majority of these voters were registered Democrats, and considering Obama won the state by 263,000 votes, Ohio’s cleaner rolls could make a big impact.
These factors, and especially the Republicans’ clear advantage in absentee voting, have been ignored by the media in order to continue their narrative that conservatives can’t win this November. Republicans can win in Ohio if these trends continue and the Republicans mount a strong get-out-the-vote effort.
Despite what the pundits say, polls don’t win elections. If conservative activists knock on doors and talk to their neighbors, Americans will have a fighting chance to fire Obama. To empower these grassroots activists, American Majority Action has launched Liberty Headquarters in Ohio and other key swing states.
It’s tough to see how Mitt Romney wins in November without Ohio. Fortunately, Romney’s path to victory in Ohio is becoming clearer.
Ned Ryun is the CEO and president of American Majority Action, a national grassroots organization targeting Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Virginia, and Wisconsin this fall. For more information, call (540) 751-8774.