Can just 18 Electoral College votes decide the outcome of the next US President? How confident are the Republicans of the prospects of Governor Mitt Romney winning in Ohio?
We drive down on a crispy winter day to Cincinnati, a beautiful city on the banks of the Ohio River with parts of the city extending to Kentucky state. The city, situated in Hamilton County, is truly impressive with a mixture of high-rises and old style American buildings. The city is traditionally the reserve of the Republicans.
I get to speak with some operatives at their offices who seemed confident of capturing Ohio. When I tell them of the Democratic operatives’ claim that President Obama is leading, though narrowly in the polls, they tell me that it is a dead heat as President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney are virtually tied. In order to become the President, 270 electoral votes are required and so it is certainly possible. However, the Republican operatives do not believe that it will come to that. They are quite confident because the gap has narrowed from the double digit lead Obama had a couple of weeks ago. Moreover, the Republicans are also likely to have more money to spend on advertising and such during the last phase of the election.
Ohio is the workshop of America with a lot of top companies, including Procter & Gamble, headquartered here. Her economy is doing better than other parts of America with unemployment rate less than the national average. President Obama’s bailout of the automotive industry (aka Detroit) has had a direct impact in Ohio as it is the home for a lot of ancillary companies, resulting in return of manufacturing jobs. There is also a rising tide of Indians, Arabs and other immigrants which can help the president’s cause. There is no sense of an economic crisis here as evidenced in other parts of America
Ohio has always been regarded as a bellwether state. There’s a saying—as goes Ohio so goes America. The president won Ohio handily in the last election has to hold on to it now. If Governor Romney wins then it will mean that the president’s ‘firewall’ has been breached. Its 18 Electoral College votes mean more than mere numbers. It might all come down to the turnout that each party is able to muster and the winner could be decided by just a handful of these votes.
(Harsh Desai has done his BA in Political Science from St Xavier's College & Elphinstone College, Bombay and has done his Master's in Law from Columbia University in the city of New York. He is a practicing advocate at the Bombay High Court.)
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