No Republican has ever won the White House without carrying Ohio, and the campaigns of President Obama and Mitt Romney have paid more attention to Ohio than any other state in 2012.
Ohio is so important to both candidates largely because its 18 Electoral College votes make it the second-largest battleground state to Florida and because the race is so close there. Pennsylvania is another large prize where Republicans have lately begun airing TV ads and concentrating efforts in an attempt to expand Romney's map. But the focus on Ohio has been constant for months.
Ohio has been Ground Zero for the Obama and Romney campaigns' manufacturing-driven economic messages. Obama has touted his auto bailout, while Romney has launched a series of TV ads promoting his tough stance on China and questioning Obama's. The president has responded with China ads of his own, insinuating that Romney supported sweatshop labor while considering investments for Bain Capital.
The campaigns have also battled for Ohio's handful of coal-producing counties, airing TV ads in the Charleston, W.Va., media market covering counties on Ohio's eastern border. Romney ads have featured miners' complaining that Obama's coal policies endanger their livelihood. Obama has hit back with ads that allege Romney is "not one of us" and replay Romney's criticism of a coal plant as governor of Massachusetts.
Miners featured in one of Romney's ads were required to attend the rally where they were filmed, the Los Angeles Times reported, and Obama has aired an ad accusing Romney of using them as "props."
Ohio is home to 11,500 miners and loggers, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The economy has been improving in Ohio -- its unemployment rate is lower than it was when President Obama took office -- and like Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich has touted his state's recovery, including in his Tampa convention speech.
"We've made real progress in Ohio," Kasich said during that speech. "But we need a new partner in Washington. This relationship is just not working."
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman made it to Romney's final three VP choices, but the GOP candidate eschewed him for Paul Ryan, who went to college at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
UNEMPLOYMENT RATE: 7 percent, as of September
TREND SINCE OBAMA TOOK OFFICE: Ohio's unemployment rate is lower than it was when Obama took office, when it sat at 8.6 percent. It held the same rate a year ago and has dropped by 1.6 percentage points since September 2011.
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME 2011: $45,749 2008: $49,793
POPULATION: 11,544,951, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2011 estimates
POPULATION BY RACE White: 83.6 percent Black: 12.4 percent Asians: 1.7 percent Hispanics: 3.2 percent
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