With just over half of Ohio precincts reporting in, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has cut President Barack Obama’s early lead in the state down to just 57,000 votes. But conservative Republican Kenneth Blackwell, who as Ohio’s former secretary of state is well versed on the intricacies of Buckeye State politics, tells Newsmax that Romney appears to be underperforming in Ohio with blue-collar white voters.
If so, it would greatly complicate Romney’s path to the presidency.
Now that Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin are off the board, having been projected to fall to President Obama, most analysts believe Romney must win Florida and Ohio to have a realistic shot at reaching the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the presidency.
The Obama campaign had invested heavily in early voting in the Buckeye state, and racked up a 170,000 vote advantage among those early voters. Once those returns were reported, Romney began to steadily chip away at Obama’s lead.
As of 10:15 p.m. ET, the president had 1,677,877 votes (50.60 percent) to Romney’s 1,620,197 votes (48.34 percent), with 50.82 percent of Ohio precincts reporting.
Blackwell warns, however, that Obama is expected to net a whopping 250,000 or so votes when populous Cuyahoga County reports in.
Cuyahoga is typically one of the last counties to report its results.
Blackwell tells Newsmax that means Romney needs to steadily whittle away at Obama’s current lead, so that he’s not swamped when those Cleveland-area precincts report their results.
“In Ohio, Romney is underperforming, as compared to how he’s doing across the country, with moderate income and blue collar families – white in particular,” Blackwell says.
While Blackwell believes Romney remains within striking distance, he says the withering spate of Obama attack ads in Ohio that sought to define the former Bain Capital executive as a cold-hearted business mogul who shipped jobs overseas has apparently have had a lasting effect.
“Once this changed from being a referendum on Obama to being a choice election,” Blackwell tells Newsmax, “the early money that Obama spent in Ohio to define him as a rich white guy who doesn’t understand how blue-collar families in general, and blue-collar minority families more narrowly -- that’s been a challenge.”
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