Four Years Ago Today...Ohio Was A 'Dead Heat'

President Obama arrives at Cleveland Airport; 12,000 people roar

All of the pearl-clutching over the close polls was beginning to give me a nervous twitch last night. Then I caught this video of the president arriving at his final stop in his 48-hour, 8-state tour - Cleveland, Ohio.

The roar of the crowd as Air Force One rolled up on the tarmac was amazing, and their energy didn't abate for the entire rally. It reminded me of 2008, when crowds gathered in epic numbers to get a glimpse of him on the stump, and the electricity that seemed to follow him wherever he went.

But I do recall being nervous in 2008, even though the polls were clearly pointing toward an easy win. Why? Because of Ohio. It's always Ohio, it seems. So let's have a look at what the pundits and papers were saying back 4 years ago today, on October 26, 2008, about Ohio:

Toledo Blade headline: McCain goes for broke to keep Ohio 'red'

This weekend s Ohio Newspaper Poll shows the race for Ohio to be a statistical dead heat with a slight edge for Mr. Obama in a state that Mr. McCain characterizes as a must-win for himself if he is to capture the White House.

Cleveland Plain Dealer: Poll gives Obama slight lead in Ohio

Ohio voters, wrong only twice when picking the president in the last 108 years, remain nearly split over their choice for the White House, according to a new Ohio Newspaper Poll.

But while the race remains a statistical dead heat, more voters are siding with Democrat Barack Obama, who has erased Republican John McCain's previous lead in Ohio and now holds a 3-point advantage, 49 percent to 46 percent. Battleground States

Herb Asher, a political science professor at Ohio State University in Columbus, and an expert on Ohio politics, believes that although the polls are pointing to an Obama victory in Ohio, it is still up for grabs.

"It will be a close election here," Prof. Asher says.

Obama's ground operation and push for early voting was credited with keeping him in play in Ohio. Patrick Gaspard, executive director of the DNC, released some numbers in a memo Thursday pointing at key statistics for Ohio:

  • There is no party registration in Ohio, but counties and precincts that Obama won in 2008 are voting early at a higher rate than GOP counties and precincts
  • In counties that Obama won in 2008, 10% of registered voters have already cast ballots. In GOP counties, only 7% of registered voters have cast ballots
  • Voters from precincts that voted for Obama in 2008 have cast 408,788 ballots (53%) in 2012 compared with just 355,388 ballots (47%) from GOP precincts
  • The difference (D +53,400) is 80% higher than the difference at this time four years ago (D +29,706)

And how did Ohio turn out in 2008? Barack Obama won it 51/47, with less voters voting early.

But this is 2012, you say, and Barack Obama has been beaten up by recalcitrant Republicans and evil tea partiers? Yes, it is. But the numbers and the reports are there for anyone to see. What it tells me is what I've been saying all along: If turnout is high, we win. If we win, he wins.

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