Can the Democrat put his finger on the difference in energy in 2012?

“It’s hard to quantify, but there is significantly less enthusiasm,” said Roan. “I think there’s sort of grim determination on the part of some people, more than enthusiasm. … And it shows up in our volunteers. … We don’t have the number of young people volunteering like we did last time.”

Roan’s words may represent Romney’s best hope of capturing Ohio. Mitt Romney’s campaign is banking on a certain excitement — ephemeral, and harder to quantify by data — for a victory here, in a state that both sides believe is within the close, but which most public polls show Obama narrowly winning. Officials with the Romney campaign favorably compare their numbers of voter contacts to John McCain’s in the state in 2008, and believe their targeting models are effective…

The Romney campaign says it’s exceeded its weekly door-knocking goals, and bases its turnout model on people who have voted in every election, as well as those who registered to vote in the primaries (the Obama campaign does the same thing, combined with other data). The Romney campaign is more than happy to allow reporters to tag along; the Obama campaign tends to keep elements of its operation more guarded.