A new ABC News/Washington Post poll of Ohio released tonight, revealed that Barack Obama has taken a six point lead over John McCain in the state, 51%-45%. As with other swing states, concerns about the economy are propelling Obama to the advantage.
The economy is the central issue in the state. Sixty one percent of Obama supporters listed the economy as their most important issue, and even more telling for McCain is that 34% of his supporters listed the economy as their number one issue too. Obama is also being powered by an enthusiasm gap. While the candidates initially are even in terms of enthusiasm, 92% of Obama supporters say they are enthusiastic, compared to 88% of McCain supporters, the difference is in those who said that they were very enthusiastic about their candidate.
Fifty eight percent of Obama supporters are very enthusiastic about their candidate, but only 30% of McCain supporters say that they are very enthusiastic about the Republican. Interestingly, voters in the state might be more excited by Obama because they have heard from the campaign. Thirty seven percent of registered voters said that they had been contacted by the Obama campaign compared to 27% who have heard from McCain.
McCain has a bigger lead among male voters than George W. Bush did in 2004, but the difference is with women. Bush and Kerry split the female vote 50/50 four years ago. Today, Obama leads McCain, 56%-42% with women. McCain is also running five points behind Bush’s 2004 pace with white voters, and 15% behind Bush with black voters, who support Obama 98%-1%. McCain is only running 3 points behind the GOP 2004 pace with white men, but he is 7 points behind Bush’s support with white women.
Obama is still being powered by voters under 30. In Ohio, he has a 34 point lead over McCain, 65%-31%. What is different in 2008 is that voters over 30 are tied at 48%. This is a group that Bush won in 2004. Overall, there is still potential for an extremely close race on Election Night, but McCain has to perform up to Bush levels in order to even have a chance at winning Ohio. A more realistic projection is that the economy torpedoes McCain’s campaign in the state, and Ohio follows Pennsylvania and Michigan into the Obama column.