Ohio is still the political heartland

William Hershey and Laura A. Bischoff // Published November 2, 2008 in Dayton Daily News

Jacqueline Walker-Adkins moved from Ohio this fall and now she feels left out.

No robo calls to her house. No presidential visits to her home. Not as many TV ads from Barack Obama and John McCain.

"Living here now, I don't know that it even matters if I vote," said Walker-Adkins, a 40-year-old stay-at-home mom who moved from Springboro to the Chicago suburbs in Obama solid-blue Illinois.

The Ohio voters she left behind can't relate. They're again at the center of the political universe.

More states are up for grabs in this year's presidential race than in 2004, but Ohio's still in the spotlight. With just two days before Election Day, nearly all the state's 8.3 million registered voters have had a chance to see one of the candidates in person.

According to the FairVote, a research and advocacy group, Ohio led all states through Wednesday, Oct. 29, with 26 presidential campaign visits since the political conventions ended in September. And with visits by Obama and Sarah Palin today, all four candidates for president and vice president will have made multiple stops in Ohio — since Thursday.

Of course, it's not just the candidates who show up in Ohio around election time. Old household names like Sheryl Crow and Arnold Schwarzenegger and new ones like Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher are dropping in like in-laws at Christmas.

And by now, we've all heard the refrain "I'm John McCain" or "I'm Barack Obama" far too many times. In Ohio alone, the two candidates had spent an estimated $49.8 million on TV ads from last year through Oct. 29, according to CNN. The spending is expected to continue right up to Election Day.

There is a bright side to all this attention, other than the fact it will be over soon. It's good for democracy, said John Green, director of the Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron.

"The more campaign activity and ads — even negative ones — the more voters actually know about the candidates and the elections," he said.