I would say--not in a self-interested way--that Ohio is the most critical of the so-called Battleground states in the election. In fact I would go so far as to say that most of the so-called battleground states are not really in play. A few examples: Bush will win the states he won in 2000: West Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, Arisona, Nevada, Missouri, New Hampshire, and Florida (I also think he is going to take Wisconsin and Iowa, may take Oregon, but will lose New Mexico, all of which he barely lost in 2000). While I also think he is going to win Ohio, yet, the buckeye state takes on special importance because no Republican has become president since Lincoln without taking Ohio. And I believe it is also true that Bush hasn’t yet quite nailed down the state (although he will after the convention). This
Gallup Poll of Ohio voters reflects this. Gallup has Kerry on top with registered voters, but with those likely to vote, it is Kerry 47% to Bush 45 (Nader 4%). Without Nader (oddly) it is 48-46 for Kerry. Now, the margin of error is about 5 points, so all this--arguably--doesn’t mean very much. The main reason Bush hasn’t taken off in Ohio is because the economy here is perceived to be the main issue, and not the war. That has been changing and will continue to change, to Bushs advantage. According to Pew Research: "For the first time since the Vietnam era, [1972 was the last presidential election in which national security issues were rated as the most important by Gallup] national security issues are looming larger than economic issues in an election year. Such issues as war, terrorism and foreign policy were named as the most important facing the nation by four people in 10, while one-fourth of those polled said economic issues were most important. In January, national security issues were even with economic issues in this poll." This will be to Bush’s advantage, nationally and Ohio. Iraq and the war have become, as I have always predicted, Bush’ trump card, while Ohio will become his trump state.