COLUMBUS, Ohio — If one place is emerging as a test of Mitt Romney’s ability to capitalize on a new dynamic in the presidential race, it is Ohio, where he is intensifying his advertising, deploying more troops and spending four of the next five days.
Ohio, whose 18 electoral votes are critical to Mr. Romney’s candidacy, has bedeviled him like no other battleground state. His prospects were so shaky two weeks ago that his advisers openly discussed the narrow path to winning the necessary 270 electoral votes without Ohio, which every Republican president in the nation’s history has carried.
But as the race for the White House takes on a new air of volatility after President Obama’s off-kilter debate performance last week — a poll from the nonpartisan Pew Research Center on Monday suggested that Mr. Romney had wiped out the president’s lead among voters nationally — Mr. Romney is displaying new vigor in his fight for Ohio. The state, along with Florida, Iowa and Virginia, is now at the heart of his strategy for the remaining 28 days of the campaign.