HAMILTON, Ohio — Starting Thursday, Ohio will see a blitz of national politicos in nearly every part of the state nonstop through the election on Tuesday.
The reason is simple: Republican strategists working on the presidential race tell RealClearPolitics that Mitt Romney must flip one of three states to unseat President Obama: Nevada, Wisconsin or, most important, Ohio. Conversely, the president must win all three — and just those three, not any other battlegrounds — in order to secure a second term.
Of course, Obama could win Colorado (which has one fewer electoral vote than Wisconsin) or Iowa instead of Nevada, but given what polls show and how strategists view the other swing states, both sides agree the president is better positioned to keep Wisconsin and Nevada — with Ohio as the last piece of the puzzle.
A GOP insider with access to strategy discussions and internal polling data said Republican moves to supposedly expand Romney’s map are simply attempts to rattle the opposition and force the president’s team to spend money where it otherwise wouldn’t. Of the states they are working to make competitive, Pennsylvania is the closest, but four years ago John McCain lost there “by 600,000 votes,” this strategist said. Campaign operatives think it will be closer this time, but they are under no illusions and concede that the Keystone State is extremely unlikely to flip.
To that end, the Romney team is concentrating its time and efforts on Ohio, hoping that a last-minute surge will lift the Republican ticket over the top. Despite a slew of public polls showing Obama leading by at least two percentage points — and as many as five — the Romney campaign sees different data. (The RCP Average has the president up by 2.3 points.)