Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Romney closes in on Obama in new polls as candidates head to Ohio

Romney closes in on Obama in new polls as candidates head to Ohio
Clean Media Correspondent

Newyork, Oct 09 (CMC) President Obama and Mitt Romney descended on the vital swing state of Ohio on Tuesday as a slew of new polls confirmed that the race has tightened across the country in the wake of last week's fateful televised debate.

Exactly four weeks before election day, all eyes are now on Ohio and a handful of other key battleground states where the race for the White House is likely to be won. Local polls released by Survey USA and the American Research Group have put Romney and Obama within one point of each other among likely voters in Ohio, a stunning reversal of the commanding lead Obama had enjoyed before the TV debate of as much as nine points.

Other local polls indicated a dramatic closing of the gap between the two candidates even in Michigan and Pennsylvania - two states that had been considered already in the bag for the president. A national poll by the Pew Research Center has further shaken up the race by giving Romney a four-point lead among likely voters, turning Obama's eight-point lead in September on its head.

With the Romney campaign feeling a surge in energy following the televised head-to-head, which Gallup suggested was the biggest victory for a presidential candidate since it began polling debates, it has begun to pile in resources into Ohio mindful of the fact that no Republican has become president without first winning this state. The former governor of Massachusetts is spending Tuesday and Wednesday in Ohio, following on from his running mate Paul Ryan who was in Swanton, Ohio, on Monday.

Unlike his challenger, Obama has alternative routes to a renewed term in the White House that bypass Ohio and its rich crop of 18 of the 270 electoral votes needed to triumph on 6 November. But he is taking no chances, travelling to Ohio state university in Columbus on Tuesday to address students.

In the five days since his hapless debate performance, which has been almost universally denounced as listless and defensive, Obama has stepped up his attacks on Romney. He has been relentlessly pounding his rival with the accusation that he misled the 70 million viewers of the debate with false information.

At a campaign rally in San Francisco on Monday night, Obama said: "A few nights ago a guy pretending to be Mitt Romney stood on a stage next to me and said he's changing his plan. He is just going to pretend it doesn't exist. 'What $5tr tax cut – I don't know anything about a $5tr tax cut'."

On a lighter note, Obama, backed by a new TV advert, is also ridiculing Romney's threat issued during the debate to cut funding for the public broadcasting TV network PBS and its star Big Bird of Sesame Street. "For all you moms and kids out there, you should have confidence that finally somebody is cracking down on Big Bird. Elmo has been seen in a white Suburban: he's driving for the border," Obama quipped.

Apart from the seismic shift in the race indicated by the polls, the election is entering a new and final phase as the two campaigns switch their focus from registering new voters to persuading voters to show up at the polling stations or send in their absentee ballots. Today is the deadline for registering new voters in 16 states and Washington DC. They include three of the nine most hotly-contested states - Colorado, Florida and Ohio.

With the presidential campaigns now turning their efforts towards get-out-the-vote, Obama will be hoping that his superior ground operation, built up lovingly over the past two years, will give him a vital edge. In Ohio, for instance, Obama For America has about 100 local offices to Romney's 30.

More immediately, the pressure is now on Joe Biden who has the onerous task of undoing the damage caused by his boss in Thursday's single vice-presidential debate. Biden will need to kick their re-election campaign back onto the offensive, without getting overheated and committing gaffes like the one last week in which he referred to America's middle class "that's been buried the last four years".

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