Ohio: Vote is crucial - but who are your voters?

Tommie Jo Marsilio is a former union shop steward. She's a single mom. And she's a Mitt Romney voter.
Associated Press
Oct 30, 2012

"It's not my job to shatter stereotypes," she says. But she is. Two years ago she became the first Republican elected to the local county commission as part of a Republican wave in an Ohio county that Barack Obama won in 2008.

From the candidates' campaign headquarters in Boston and Chicago, the electorate looks like a series of demographic groups. Voters become bar charts — women and union members for Obama, men and retirees for Romney, all part of the metrics to measure turnout and make educated guesses about outcome. But on the ground in this battleground of battleground states, with early voting well under way, the reality can complicate the science and generalization.

In a race this close, how well Romney and the president target their voters, sway independent ones and get them to the Ohio polls might well determine the outcome of next Tuesday's election. But people often don't match the voter profiles.

Take John Petelin, a 43-year-old skilled tradesman, a white male who voted for a third-party candidate instead of Obama in 2008.

He might be expected to line up behind Romney. But he isn't.

"I'm an autoworker," Petelin said outside the Lorain County Board of Elections building where he had just voted for Obama. "It's been tough out there. And Romney wanted to kill us. I can't go for that."

Or Kris Donofrio, a mother with three children in college. Standing by her car after voting in Lorain, a north-central Ohio city west of Cleveland, she scoffs at Romney's suggestion that kids can borrow for school from their parents.

But her parents, staunch Democrats she said, are voting for Romney. "They're concerned about Medicare," she said. "They think Obamacare is not for them."

Ohio voters like these are steadily making their way into county polling places across the state, casting early ballots that will determine whether Ohio will serve as a Democratic firewall against Romney's advance or a fire pit where the president's candidacy will perish.

Across the country, about 15 million voters already have cast ballots in the presidential contest, according to the United States Elections Project at George Mason University. In Ohio, about a million have submitted absentee ballots or voted in person.

With just a week left before Election Day, Obama holds some clear edges in Ohio, not the least of which is an advantage in the early vote and a robust get-out-the-vote organization. He holds a narrow lead in some public polls in the state, though others show a neck-and-neck race as the campaign tightens in the homestretch.

Obama's political outreach, built on the broad base of support from 2008, is extensive and frequent. The auto industry, boosted by the government bailout, is resurgent.

In an interview with Cincinnati radio station WIZF that aired on Monday, Obama laid out the early vote strategy.

"We really want to bank as many votes as possible," he said. "So the fewer people who haven't voted yet, the better our Election Day operation is going to be."

But Romney, energized and locked in a dead heat nationally with the president, is mounting his own aggressive voter contact effort, partly counting on the inroads Republicans made in the state in 2010 and seeking to capitalize on discontent toward Obama among many independent voters. In county after county, campaign aides say, more Republicans are taking steps to vote early than did in 2008.

In Ohio so far, Democrats have a 31 percent to 24 percent lead among voters who have cast ballots in 50 of the state's 88 counties, according to data collected by The Associated Press. Forty-five percent of early voters in those counties were unaffiliated.

Those numbers have limitations. Party affiliation is based on the last primary in which someone voted, so new voters and those who don't vote in primaries are listed as unaffiliated.

A poll by Time magazine last week had Obama's advantage over Romney among early voters at 60-30 across the state.

And internal Republican polls also show Obama with leads even in Republican-leaning parts of the state, increasing the burden on Romney to do well on Election Day.

"We have seen a slight Democratic advantage in key districts in early and absentee votes," said Wes Anderson, a Republican pollster who has conducted surveys in congressional races in Ohio. "Those who have yet to vote are clearly trending Romney's way. The question is, is this movement toward Romney happening fast enough and big enough to overcome the slight deficit that he now has in early voting."

Romney advisers say they see signs that outside the big, populous counties, Romney could benefit from a wave of conservative voters as President George W. Bush did in 2004.

"Rural counties are really coming home," Romney political director Rich Beeson said. "You see it in early absentee and you see it in the intensity level. That's where we're going to make some ground."

Obama aides say the early turnout in Ohio is higher in counties that voted for him in 2008 than it is in precincts that voted for Republican John McCain that year.

Yet, a number of counties where Obama won four years ago, including Hamilton County in the Cincinnati suburbs, Stark County south of Cleveland and Portage County where Kent State University is located and where Marsilio is a commissioner, voted for Republican Gov. John Kasich and Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman in 2010.

Besides Ohio, the eight other battlegrounds where the candidates are spending time and money are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia and Wisconsin.

So far, Democratic voters casting early ballots outnumber Republicans in Ohio, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina and Nevada. Republican voters have the edge in Colorado. No votes will be counted until Nov. 6, but several battleground states report the party affiliation of people who have already cast ballots. Some, like Ohio, have large blocs of unaffiliated voters.

In North Carolina, more than 1.5 million people have cast ballots, 50 percent of them Democrats and 31 percent Republicans. In Iowa, about 471,000 people have already voted — 45 percent Democrats and 32 percent Republicans. About 433,000 voters in Nevada have cast ballots, 45 percent Democrats and 37 percent Republicans.

In Florida, about 1.8 million voters have cast ballots and Democrats have edged in front of Republicans, 42 percent to 41 percent, according to a tally by the AP. Republicans had the early lead among people who voted by mail, but the Obama campaign has made a big push since in-person early voting started Saturday.

About 804,000 voters have cast ballots in Colorado, and Republicans have a slight edge over Democrats, 39 percent to 36 percent.



John Harville

@Knuckle... yeah, I'll use Ryan as an example because Rmoney has adopted/praised Ryan's budget AND would (will never) be the president of a 50/50 Senate.


Well, here is the problem with Romney - he has done nothing but TALK about what his plan is - he has NEVER released anything to show what he really means - other than we KNOW he supports the RYAN plans - so there is nothing to indicate that his plan is any different. With that said - he can talk all he wants - we all know what RYAN has planned and it isn't good for even the already "old" people in this country. That person who doesn't think Obamacare is for her doesn't understand RYANs plan either or she would never have said that because Obamacare has nothing to do with Medicare - they are separate entities. As for Democrats being blind - we are not the blind followers of Rush, Beck, Hannity, or FOX NEWS. Those are the blind people who believes that if they say it - it is gospel. Stop listening to what others interpret documents - check them out for yourself and become educated in what you are talking about first - then talk, but from your OWN opinion - not that of others who have already admitted they will lie and cheat to get Obama out of office. They are scared to death of him.


prezo's plan: borrow money, create a plan that involves wasting taxpayer dollars trying to invent jobs, print more money, create a new type of welfare program, borrow more money, tell people how much better off they are today, print more money...i hope you get the pic. if not, re-read time and time again and then you get the pic.


The only picture I get is that whatever he is doing - it's working - maybe not at the fast pase of what Romney says he will do it (oh wait - he's talking 10 years to fix the budget and economy). Things are getting better - just stop listening to people and check things out yourself.


being a business owner i see it every day steve and the grass is not getting any greener!!


Old farts in politics, LMAO, enjoy!!!



@ Kimo:

"Medicare"? You got your benefits. No worry for you.

How's this Ponzi scheme supposed to survive; raise taxes to confiscatory levels on the youth?

Heck, I even think that R&R are full of (bleep) on the voucher plan. This Ponzi scheme is goin' down.


This talk about a ponzi scheme is funny - it has been the same plan since it was started and just because Obama is in the WH - it's a ponzi scheme.


We should abolish Medicare and Social Security and let old poor people take car of themselves.
Then we would have the Utopia the Republicans envision.


Very well put - Romney already said "I'm not concerned about the poor". What makes everyone think he is lying about what he really believes. He has said the same thing with different words multiple times - 47% ring any bells?



Some future legislature will abolish M&M and SS? Ain't gonna happen.

Remember Stein's Law: "If something cannot go on forever, it will stop,"

We're borrowing 40-50¢ of every dollar spent. Where's the money gonna come from? The rich ain't got enough to fix the spending problem.

Like all Ponzi schemes, the programs will 'end' - in a fiscal collapse.

Remember last yr's debate around raising the Fed debt level? Pres. Obama scared seniors by tellin' them that their SS checks may not go out.

They're pay-go systems: The money comes in, the money goes out. We borrow the balance needed.

the office cat

@Contango.You keep repeating this lie about the SS checks not going out. It had nothing to do with funding.
Congress was threatening to shut down the government, in which case the government would not be able to make SS deposits or send checks.
Actually YOU are the one trying to 'scare' people by perpetuating this lie.
Not unlike Rmoney who keeps advertising the Jeeps-to-China lie.

The Big Dog's back

Why do Repubs like crying fire in a crowded theater?


Actually, that is lie. In the event of a shutdown the government is still required to send out social security, and military retirement pay. Get your facts straight. Obama lied, he couldn't have stopped payments if he wanted to.


@ the office cat:

"I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd if we haven't resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it,"


Nah, he wasn't trying to scare seniors. LOL


"...she scoffs at Romney's suggestion that kids can borrow for school from their parents."

this is the typical response from people who do not take personal responsibility in helping their children. it's not like college just jumped out the door one day and said hey, i am here! pi$$ poor planning on their part does not constitute an emergency on my part. so, yeah, let your kids borrow the maximum that they can from student loans and then cry and whine about them being buried under a mountain of debt and then they can default on their loans like millions of others. fyi, student loans through gov't assistance programs NEVER go away unless they are paid in full.


You can't REALLY default on a student loan now can you? Rmoney's suggestion is ridiculous and so is your comment. Sometimes parents don't have the money to lend. We can't all be super rich like you!


deertracker - my comment is not ridiculous. having the thought that my kids would go to college when they were born we saved money. had cd's, made our kids work through the summer breaks putting aside a portion of those monies. we were able to loan our children some money and yes, they had to take out a small college loan. again, college is something that does not sneak up on anyone. in most cases people have 18 years to plan for it.

the office cat

@Mikel I sure hope they went to a private college like Hillsdale and not some public college for which we taxpayers paid most of the costs - or some other private college which accepts Pell Grants and Staffor Loans and government-secured loans.
Sometimes college does 'sneak up' on families - families who have never had anyone go to college let alone graduate; families who always had family businesses they thought would carry on; families whose college funds collapsed with the banks and the economy; families who had unexpected catastrophic illnesses or incidents.
You spend so much pontificating from your castle on the hill that you refuse to acknowledge others are not as fortunate as you - usually through no fault of their own.
You are deserving of our understanding and compassionate will to overlook the fact you, basically, are a damaged soul.


damaged soul, hahaha. i will do anything i can to help families with concerns that are legit. but when someone tells me that they can't afford gas for their car or food on their tables yet have their nails done, hair done, using the newest i-phones, wearing $100 shoes, going to cedar point 2-3 times per year, have the newest gaming systems etc etc, i lose my sympathy. we have become a country of wants over necessity and then it is someone else's fault that they don't have money.

btw puttytat, i have empathy for many families.


You can't REALLY default on a student loan now can you? Rmoney's suggestion is ridiculous and so is your comment. Sometimes parents don't have the money to lend. We can't all be super rich like you!


Correct, I started three CD's when my daughter was one, two and three. She is now attending her first year of college and with scolorships, good grades, and overall participaion. I think I have enought of it funded for her for the four years. After that she is on her own. I was 50% of those who chose to create her so I am obligated to take care of her, educate her and send her down the path of life with the tools necessary to do so.

It really is about taking personal responsibility!


Good post. I also started a fund for my grandchildren. $20 a week doesn't sound like much, but it all helps. If the parents put in $20 and the other grandparents put in $20, it adds up. Give up a few of those fast food sandwiches, or a couple of beers, and give it to your kids. That's personal responsibilty.


Well at that rate your grandchild will be able to pay for the first year's tuition at today's rates. What will they be in 18 years?


Actually there are programs out there where you can purchase semester hours at todays prices to be used at a future date. I started one of these savings plans when I was in Utah for my kids and continue it today.

the office cat

Knuckle... good luck with that. People who started those years ago are finding out the plan doesn't work. Those are for public colleges and do NOT lock in the tuition rates at the time you start paying. Does this mean you are restricting your kids' choices of college to what you've deposited for?


you may not have saved enough for the entire college cost but anything you can do along those lines will certainly help.


The program put together by the state of Utah does. I have the papers right in front of me, and yes it is for public colleges. I never claimed it covered private college tuition. Yes I am restricting where my kids go to school. If I pay for it, I have a say in it. They are free to go wherever they want on their dime. Apparently you are of the school of thought that taxpayers should pay for whatever school a person wants to go to? I wanted to go to Harvard but could only afford Ohio University. I would be happy for you to pay for my Doctoral studies at Harvard if you wish?


No parent is OBLIGATED tosend their child to college. I hope they all get a job!


I would say a parent has more of a obligation to send their kids to school than the entire society having to pay for it.