“The thin slice of that electorate is up for grabs in Ohio,” says Paul Allen Beck, a political scientist at Ohio State University in Columbus. “Undecideds are still in play. The debates will be important in moving them” to make a final choice.
The latest Ohio polls show Obama with a single-digit edge over Romney – 49 to 45 percent, according to Public Policy Polling in Raleigh, N.C. – with 7 percent of state voters undecided. The survey was conducted Sept. 27-30 among 897 likely voters with a margin of error of 3.3 percent.
Though leading, Obama by no means has the state locked up: His approval ratings among Ohioans are split 48 to 49 percent, akin to Romney’s favorability ratings, 45 to 49 percent. The numbers are close enough that the outcome in Ohio remains unpredictable.
O’Toole, a marketing coordinator for an accounting firm and an MBA student at the University of Akron, considers herself a moderate Republican who swings to the left on social issues such as abortion rights and gay marriage. “I have a number of friends who are gay and I want them to have the same opportunity I would have,” she explains. But O'Toole is also worried about the state of the economy and how it has languished for the past four years. She comes from a family of lifelong Republicans and voted for GOP presidential nominee John McCain four years ago. In the 2008 primary, though, she voted Democratic, for Hillary Rodham Clinton.