Did the final presidential debate move the numbers in Ohio, perhaps the most critical of the swing states to both campaigns? Rasmussen polled likely voters in the Buckeye State and found that the answer was … no, not really. What had been a 49/48 narrow edge for Obama a week earlier has now become a 48/48 tie with less than two weeks to go:
The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Ohio Voters, taken the night after the final presidential debate, shows both President Obama and Mitt Romney attracting 48% of the vote. Two percent (2%) plan to vote for some other candidate, and three percent (3%) are undecided. …
Four percent (4%) of Republicans remain uncommitted to one of the major candidates. Only one percent (1%) of Democrats fall into that category, along with 12% of voters not affiliated with either of the major parties.
Last week and for most of the last month, the president has held a one-point advantage in the state. The Obama campaign has a very strong ground game in the Buckeye State. Ohio allows early voting, and among those who have already voted, the president has a 10-point lead. But that’s a smaller advantage than he had a week ago.
Let’s go to the internals to see where Ohioans stand. The sample D/R/I is 38/39/23, almost identical to the 2010 midterm of 36/37/28 — but a little light on independents. That’s worth keeping in mind as indies break slightly toward Obama, both without leaners (43/40) and with leaners (45/43). However, having an incumbent at 45% among independents with 13 days to go is not a good sign for re-election, especially when independents trust Romney a little more on the economy (47/41) and on energy policy (52/42) in the coal-rich region. Romney has neutered the gender gap; he leads among men (50/44) by the same amount as Obama leads among women (51/45).
Overall, there are a few key indicators. Romney has a slight edge on favorability at +6 (51/46) while Obama’s at zero (49/49). Romney is up seven for trust on the economy (51/44), with the exact same numbers on energy. Obama has a slight edge on national security at 50/46, but that’s within the margin of error — a big problem for an incumbent President. More people say that the economy is getting worse rather than better (41/35), and they are more pessimistic about a second Obama term than a first Romney term in that regard. If Obama gets re-elected, slightly more people expect the economy to worsen rather than improve (37/40), but Romney optimism prevails by 10 points (46/36).
I’d say that this state looks ready to break narrowly into Romney’s column. Voters are clearly not sold on Obamanomics, and a final push by Team Romney on the issues of the economy and energy policy could win the state this week and next. One thing is for sure: Obama’s debate performance didn’t provide him any lift the next day in Ohio.