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.




Just saw a new Romney ad in which he proclaims himself to be “better for autoworkers than Obama”. The ad repeats the completely false claim that Jeep will move American jobs to China.

Romney is hoping that we will forget his 2008 full-page editorial in which he said “we should let American auto manufacturers fail”, with millions of American jobs instantly vanishing as a result. He is hoping that we’ll forget that the state of Massachusetts ranked 47th in job creation while he was governor. He’s hoping that America won’t notice that his own home state (Michigan) and adopted state (Massachusetts) – the people who know him best – are voting for Obama in 2012. He’s hoping that we’ll believe his economic plan (the same one that caused the recession) is the answer.

Republicans would have us believe that the recession began in 2009. We all know that it started in 2007 and we all know who caused it. Our country was stupid enough to vote George W. Bush into office TWICE. Let’s hope we don’t give Bush a 3rd term by voting Romney.

Darwin's choice

Blah,blah, blah Obama=failure



"...don't give Bush a 3rd term by voting Romney."

My thoughts exactly!


@ coasterfan:

An easily proven falsehood.

The 2008 editorial did not read: “we should let American auto manufacturers fail”,


Gov. Romney suggested bridge loans not nationalization, the same as was done for Chrysler under the Carter Admin.

And YES, GM and Chrysler did go bankrupt.

Mr. Obama is Mr. Carter's second term - YIKES!

So coasterfan, I ask again: What make of car do you drive?

Should I assume from your continued non response that it is not from "Detroit"?


Wrong as usual, Contango. Back in 2008, I was driving a Ford Focus with 110,000 miles on it, and now my employer is doing so well that they provided a GM company car to each employee in mid-2011. My company almost went bankrupt early during the Bush recession, but thanks to the recovering economy under Obama, the company has increased its staff by 60% since 2010.

So, in just a few short years, I've personally experienced the utter failure of Republican economic policies, as well as the Democratic economic policies that are helping our country recover.

By the way, Romney's bridge loans plan has been proven to have been impossible, since during the early days of the recession, there wasn't enough private funding available to make a bridge loan plan possible. It's exactly BECAUSE no one else stepped up to help GM/Chrysler that the job was left to the Fed.Government. Sorry, friend...you can spin it any way you want, but Romney still left the auto industry to sink on its own. That ain't leadership.

Darwin's choice

I call BS on this..........who is your "company", and what is their financial status now, storyteller?


@ coasterfan:

Get it through your head: GM and Chrysler DID go bankrupt.

And yes, there was private financing. For one, Penski wanted to buy Saturn.

The govt. supplied the financing for the Chrysler bridge loan.

I doubt that you have no personal use vehicle. What is it?

BTW: Without Mr. Bernanke's money printing, this economy would be flat on it's back. Other than borrow, Mr. Obama has done squat.


Wrong once again, Contango. I have no personal use vehicle, no vehicle other than my company-owned GM, which I earned by increasing my sales by 250% since 2010. Since my company sells a leisure product, it's indicative of just HOW much the economy has improved that Americans spent $8 million last year with my small company of less than 15 employees. I'm just a worker bee at the bottom of the food chain, but in 2012 under Obama, things are good.

In mid-2008, I was unemployed and my home was about to be foreclosed upon. So, no, I DON'T want to go back to the same GOP economic ideas that caused our entire economy to tank. Romney's plan is Bush's plan on steroids. Romney = Recession Part 2.

I expect all politicians to stretch the truth to make themselves look better. What I DON'T expect are blatant lies, and that's what the Romney ads are these days. Jeep/Chrysler immediately debunked Romney's ad - it's not like it was just the Obama campaign that told Romney "you're full of it".


@ coasterfan:

Sales? Probably just a good order taker.

A company car? So your employer deducts the usage as a tax loophole? Time to end that don't you think?

Are you taxed on the use of your company car as a benefit?

The consumer is overextended on debt, don't get too comfortable.

Hope you're investing some of your income in some evil corporations in a retirement plan.

Fiat said that they may move Jeep production to Italy. The Romney ads are only guily of a mistatement of country destination.


LOL, I'm wondering if you were sounding the alarm in 2005-2006 when the Wall Street / housing bubble was about to burst. You know, the economic crisis that was caused by lack of government oversight (which Republicans vehemently opposed)? I think that is a FAR better example of "the consumer being overextended on debt", don't you?

I'm far less cynical than you are. You're entitled to hate the government. I see them as an important safety net, and I think that the current huge fed gov't response is indicative of that. I have no use for conservatives who complain about FEMA, then who get in line for help when the hurricane hits their area. Actually, I find Republicans to be odd to begin with. They profess to love America, yet hate so many Americans and so many established American Institutions.

Darwin's choice

Coasterfan.....you have an amazing gift of "hindsight"

the office cat

Careful.... that fire in your pants is working its way to the seat of your understanding. Fiat doesn't have the means without Chrysler. Blaze on!


@ the office cat:

And Fiat says that they can't make it without a third player; maybe Mazda.

Read more business and watch less Bill Maher.

the office cat

Why are you so anxious to send 850,000 Ohio jobs overseas and put Americans out of work? It's almost like you're cheering for the Liar-in-Chief Romney to be right.
BTW... where is Paul Ryan?

Darwin's choice

"O" must go........

Darwin's choice


the office cat

And yet the Liar-in-Chief has not corrected his lies.


@ the office cat:

You mean Mr. Obama who told the people of IL that he would fulfill his term as U.S. Senator and not run for POTUS?

the office cat

GOTTA prove that one, Contango.
But thank you for the opening into Josh Mandel's greatest lies:
October 5, 2010.
“Right now my plan is to be elected state treasurer, do a darn good job and then take it from there. I don’t have any plans or visions beyond that, so you know right now it’s be a good treasurer, definitely serve there you know, for the first four years and likely for, you know run for re-election but I’m not sure but a lot of that’s going to be, I think, you know, impacted by, you know family situations as well." Then he missed every meeting (14) of the most important committee of which he is chair.
I gave my proof... you give yours.
But no one is a bigger prevaricator than the Son of A merican Motors.


@ the office cat:

Proof of Mr. Obama lying about running for POTUS?

You remember that I lived for yrs. in IL right?

Here's one, there are more.

U.S. Senator-elect Obama:

"Guys, I'm a state senator. I was elected yesterday. I have never set foot in the U.S. Senate. I've never worked in Washington. And the notion that somehow I'm immediately going to start running for higher office just doesn't make sense. So look, I can unequivocally say I will not be running for national office in four years, and my entire focus is making sure that I'm the best possible senator on behalf of the people of Illinois. ... I am not running for president in 2008 ... I mean, come on guys. The only reason I'm being definitive is because until I'm definitive you will keep asking me this question, but it's a silly question."


The Big Dog's back

If you think orangatango has lost it now, wait until next week after Obama is re-elected. BOOM!

Darwin's choice

"snip, snip"


For real


@ coasterfan:

Crediting Mr. Obama for your stated economic success?

Hurricane Sandy showed that it all comes down to protecting your own, govt. can't save you.


Silly Contango. Of course, the government cannot prevent a hurricane from hitting. What it CAN do, under the right leadership, is provide a quick and effective response (see Obama, Hurricane Sandy). Or, under poor/hesitant leadership, it can provide a weak/delayed/ineffective response (see Bush, Hurricane Katrina).

OK, off to work for me (you apparently don't work, since you post 24/7... are you one of Mitt's 47%?)


@ coasterfan:

Hope you're savin' some green for when the good times end.

the office cat

And exactly would YOU have protected YOUR own?
Allstate's homeowners policies went bankrupt with Katrina so they stopped paying for wind and storm damage and forced clients to buy from the new homeowners plan.
We, The Government, will provide the means to rebuild because that's what we do.


@ the office cat:

90% of the population of N'Orleans evacuated when ordered.

About the only private citizens that remained were those who were dependent upon the govt. for their health and welfare.

The U.S. borrows 40-50 cents of every dollar spent, where's the money gonna come from?

the office cat

@Contango... and all the people of NO returned to perfectly fine homes and no need of restoration/protection. Right. And Congress - led by Eric Cantor - refused to give the $$$ necessary to rebuild.
The people who owned those 80 homes destroyed by a raging fire left too. And to what will they return?
Oh... and when will we hear you question the fate of 43 Americans killed in embassies under Bush?


@ the office cat:

Breezy Point was where some one-percenters live. Good to know you care.