Trump's Ohio turnaround: Despite his feud with Kasich, local Republican operatives are still willing to help

“The big question was, what’s it going to be like in suburban counties around Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus?” said Bob Clegg, a veteran Republican operative in Ohio. “What we’ve been seeing over the last several weeks is some coalescing in those suburban counties.”

Even Sen. Rob Portman of Cincinnati, who is outperforming Trump in the state and with women, has discovered how to coexist with Trump, rather than work at cross-purposes. He is running a carefully calibrated reelection campaign that neither embraces nor bashes Trump in the way that some of his Senate colleagues, as well as Kasich, have done.

“The fact is, Portman and Trump are doing well together. Portman is strong in areas that Trump is not strong in. They’ve turned out to be a pretty good team,” said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Trump ally who served in the House with Kasich.

Three recent public polls have shown Trump pulling ahead of Clinton in Ohio just as she’s faced some of the harshest headwinds of her campaign. Trump has capitalized on her recent stumbles while acting “a little more tamed in his campaigning,” Clegg said, fueled to a degree by his appeal to blue-collar voters without a college degree.