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It's all about Ohio: Could Rob Portman boost Romney's chances? (+video)

Sen. Rob Portman, a reported Romney short-lister for veep, is worth three to five points in battleground Ohio, says the state's Republican chairman. No Republican has ever won the presidency without winning the Buckeye State.

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Ask Steve Ingersol, a 30-something waiter at Applebee’s near Akron, Ohio, how he’s going to vote in November, and he shrugs.

“No matter who the president is, it’s just someone to blame stuff on,” says Mr. Ingersol, a registered Republican who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 because he thought it would be “cool” to have a black president. This time, he says, his vote is a coin toss.

Ingersol doesn’t know it, but he’s a hot commodity in Ohio, part of a key demographic – the white working class – in what could be the decisive state of the 2012 race. If the upper Midwest, from Iowa to Pennsylvania, is the premier battleground region of the country, then Ohio is ground zero. While Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania lean Democratic, Ohio and Iowa are tossups. And with 18 electoral votes (to Iowa’s six), Ohio has more power to swing the outcome.

Chances are, between now and Nov. 6, Ingersol will hear plenty more about his choices. The TV airwaves are already crackling with political ads. The local Portage County Tea Party is armed with voter lists for door-to-door canvassing and phone calls. The unions, too, are revving up. And both the Obama and Romney teams are on track to set up more campaign offices around Ohio than did any previous nominees.

For Mr. Obama, winning Ohio isn’t essential to reaching 270 electoral votes. But it is for Mitt Romney. No Republican has ever been elected president without carrying Ohio.


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