Election 2012: Your guide to the swing states

November 5, 2012

The 2012 Presidential election is almost here, and the swing states are as crucial as ever for the Obama and Romney campaigns.

In Ohio, campaign ads are flooding the local TV stations in a last ditch effort to sway voters:

Ohio is the battleground of all battlegrounds, the state more than any other that could hold the key to the outcome in the Electoral College on Tuesday. The Columbus Dispatch said Friday that in the final five days before the election, local TV stations would carry an additional 7,000 ads. The Buckeye State has been battered by a decline in manufacturing jobs. But the unemployment rate is now below the national average, and the president’s bailout of the auto industry, whose tentacles stretch into 80 of the state’s 88 counties, has helped spark the recovery — and an intense debate between the candidates. Virtually every public poll taken in the past 10 days shows President Obama with an advantage. Mitt Romney’s success will hinge on winning back votes in Republican counties that Obama captured four years ago.

Polls in Florida show that the presidential race is still a toss-up, but the Senate race there is a little less murky:

Sen. Bill Nelson (D) was a top early Republican target. But the GOP struggled to find a top-tier challenger. Its nominee — Rep. Connie Mack — hasn’t lived up to the billing of his famous name. (His father was a longtime senator in the state.) Nelson is the clear favorite despite the close contest at the presidential level.

One House race in Florida, however, might give the presidential race a run for its money:

The marquee House race in Florida — and perhaps the country — is between firebrand conservative Rep. Allen B. West (R) and Democrat Patrick Murphy in the 18th District. The contest has been nasty from the start, with West running an ad dredging up his opponent’s arrest for disorderly intoxication and Murphy hitting back by questioning West’s military record. The race — in one of the swingiest districts in Florida — is very close, with a fingernail on the scale in West’s favor.

Farther north, candidates are seeing a tight contest this year in swing state Wisconsin:

Republicans think they have an enthusiasm advantage because of Gov. Scott Walker’s victory in a recall election this year. The presence of native son Paul Ryan on the Republican ticket also helps, they say. Democrats are relying on the state’s progressive underpinnings coupled with Wisconsin same-day registration to lead to victory for Obama.

And while there “is much less drama” in the Wisconsin Senate race, Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) and former four-term governor Tommy Thompson (R) are in a battle for the open seat left by the retirement of Democrat Herb Kohl:

Thompson had to battle through a bitter primary and watched as Baldwin, who was unopposed for the Democratic nomination, opened up a lead last month. But the margin has closed, and both sides say presidential turnout will be decisive. If Romney wins, Thompson is likely to claim the Senate seat. A three-plus point win by Obama would probably mean a win for Baldwin, too.

Related links:

50 States: The Post’s analysis of the key races in all 50 states

2012 Election Map: The race for the presidency

Campaigns brace for battle after Tuesday’s vote

After Election Day, a time for candidates to ask, ‘What if?’

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