Cody Cousino / Multimedia editor
One state and a few thousand people could decide the difference between winning and losing the presidency for either candidate in the 2012 election.
Swing states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida typically play a key role during election season and this year should be no different.
“The most important swing state is Ohio. It is absolutely vital for Mitt Romney if he wants to win this election.” said Michael Flannagan, communications director for the Ohio State College Democrats.
No Republican candidate has won the election without carrying Ohio, but swing states also traditionally include Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin.
President Barack Obama leads 50 percent to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s 45 percent in a seven-day rolling Gallup poll. According to Politico, a news source that covers politics, Obama leads in Wisconsin, Colorado, Iowa and Virginia, while trailing in North Carolina. The candidates are in a dead tie in Florida.
Recent poll trends, especially in September, were slowly moving in Obama’s favor until the Oct. 3 presidential debate, in which most analysts said Romney outperformed Obama.
Flannagan said he believes the current lead Obama holds is due to Romney’s rough September.
“(September was) really bad for Romney. Most objective people would admit that the Democrats had a better convention,” Flannagan said.
Niraj Antani, the communications director for the OSU College Republicans, believes that these recent poll trends are not conclusive.
“I think Romney just needs to keep doing what he is doing. The race is a dead heat and I think Ohioans are understanding Romney’s message of less and more efficient government,” Antani said.
Antani and Flannagan said they believe the economy is the most important issue for swing state voters.
“People want jobs,” Antani said, “and unemployment was high under Obama.”
The U.S. jobs report for September reported that unemployment had fallen to 7.8 percent, the first time unemployment has been below 8 percent in 43 straight months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Flannagan said he believes people are optimistic about the direction the country is heading.
“The economy is not where we want it to be,” Flannagan said, “but it is getting better and people are becoming hopeful.”
OSU political science professor Paul Beck said that Ohio is one of few states where people are expressing optimism about the economy.
“Ohio’s unemployment rate puts it in good shape in comparison to other states,” Beck said.
Beck said that in order to sort through all the campaign chatter, students should stick to the basics.
“Follow the issues of the candidates,” Beck said. “Look at what is not necessarily best for yourself but what is best for the country.”
With presidential debates coming up Oct. 16 and 22, the candidates will be looking for ways to win over the electorate and specifically those vital swing-state voters.
Obama plans to visit the Oval Tuesday, and doors open at 2 p.m. Early voting began Oct. 2, and the last day to register to vote is Tuesday.
Obama was last in Columbus Sept. 17, when he spoke in Schiller Park in German Village to a crowd of about 4,500. Romney has not yet visited OSU’s campus, but he was in Columbus Sept. 26 at Westerville South High School, where he spoke to a crowd of about 1,700.
Romney is scheduled to host a rally in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, Tuesday near Akron.