Nate Silver believes that Ohio has a 50-50 chance of deciding the presidential election. With all due respect to Mr. Silver, based on the polling numbers out of the swing states and how each candidate now stands, I'd say that chance has just gone up considerably. At this point, I would be surprised if Ohio didn't decide the election. In fact, the only way that Ohio wouldn't factor in is if either candidate won in a landslide. And that scenario is highly improbable.
If Obama holds Ohio, he will win the election if he can also hold Wisconsin and either Nevada or Iowa; however, if Romney can take it, all he needs is Virginia and either Wisconsin or Colorado. Ironically, Romney can still lose Ohio and win the election by picking up Wisconsin, Colorado, Virginia and New Hampshire. Given that he is currently slightly ahead in the last three, that isn't as much of a stretch as you might think.
Bottom line: expect both campaigns to spend the bulk of their remaining days in the Buckeye state. The whole election could come down to a few thousand voters.
How did we get here? Simple. Mitt Romney reinvented himself in front of 65 million viewers at that first debate in Denver and Barack Obama has spent the better part of the last two attempting to deconstruct him. With last Monday's foreign policy debate now in the books, two things have become abundantly clear. 1. After a horrific performance in his first debate, Obama clearly won his last two; 2. that still might not be enough to save him.
In politics, perception is everything. For well over a year and a half, Mitt Romney courted the extreme right flank of his Party looking to capture the nomination. He succeeded. But his campaign was unable or unwilling to pivot to the center in order to attract the more moderate voters that often decide general elections. The Obama campaign, for its part, ostensibly stood by and watched Romney implode. It never bothered to craft a message of its own which laid out a vision for the next four years.
When Romney did his etch-a-sketch in Denver, he basically hit the reset button on his whole campaign. Mitt 2.0 was born. It was a brilliant move and it left the Obama campaign both without a compelling narrative and a convincing attack line. In 90 minutes, Gordon Gekko killed two birds with one stone.
Obama has tried to put the genie back in the bottle; to no avail. Romney's positives now are higher than his negatives. In less than a month's time he has gone from Thurston Howell III to Richie Rich. Prior to the debates, Obama had tied Romney on who could best deal with the economy. It was the only issue where Romney was even close. Now Romney is considerably ahead. The huge lead Obama enjoyed with women voters has dwindled to single digits. Ohio, once a firewall, is now a picket fence. It is practically a toss-up.
All this could've been prevented. If Obama had just stood his ground and called Romney out that night, the election might well have been over. That's the tragedy here. Poll after poll has indicated that while Romney's fortunes have risen considerably, that success has NOT "trickled" down ticket to his fellow compadres. David Frum was right; it was the message. If you take a close look at the Senate races, it's looking more and more like the Democrats are going to hold the Senate. In the House, several far-right Republicans are in danger of losing their seats, including Steve King of Iowa and fan favorite and perennial bat-shit crazy lady Michele Bachmann of Minnesota. Translation: the extremism of the GOP is being soundly rejected by the voters. At the eleventh hour, Mitt Romney finally figured that out. Give credit where credit is due. As I said, brilliant.
With less than two weeks to go, the President is in for the fight of his political life and, if he loses, he will have no one else to blame but himself.