President Barack Obama won Ohio, a state that both sides had said could decide the U.S. presidential race, the Associated Press projected.
Ohio, with its 18 electoral votes, was a top symbolic prize for the Republican nominee among the battleground states -- no Republican has won the White House without winning Ohio.
The campaigns responded that way, blitzing the state with campaign visits, ad spending and get-out-the-vote efforts.
With 75 percent of Ohio’s precincts reporting, Obama had almost 50 percent of the vote to almost 49 percent for Romney, according to the AP.
Ohio was a firewall for Obama because Romney couldn’t reach the 270 electoral votes needed to win without the Buckeye State.
Obama emphasized his support for the 2009 bailout of the auto industry that Romney opposed. Ohio has the second-highest total automotive industry employment after Michigan, with almost 850,000 jobs from manufacturing, parts and dealers, according to an April 2010 report by the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
The president sought to replicate his 2008 campaign performance in Ohio that produced a 51.5 percent victory over Republican John McCain as part of strategy to maximize Democratic votes in each of the state’s 88 counties, even in areas Republicans win.
Romney counted on increased enthusiasm among Republicans compared with 2008 and declining support for Obama, especially among younger voters. His campaign focused on boosting Republican turnout and support closer to what President George W. Bush achieved in 2004 when he carried Ohio -- especially in Republican-rich southwest Ohio and in southeastern Ohio coal country, where Romney said environmental regulations under Obama were part of a “war on coal.”
While Ohio’s economy improved faster than the nation’s -- the state’s unemployment rate was 7 percent in September, below the national average of 7.8 percent that month -- Romney argued that the jobs picture would have been better if not for Obama’s politics and policies.
Obama never completely shut down his field operation in Ohio and poured more resources than Romney into voter mobilization, with 131 grassroots offices statewide compared with 40 for the Romney campaign. The Obama campaign also won a lawsuit that went to the U.S. Supreme Court to restore early in- person voting on the three days before the election that Ohio Republicans had cut.
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