Mitt Romney's road to the White House just got steeper.
On the same day that the Republican presidential candidate will take part in his most intense 10-hour period of campaigning in the Buckeye State in months, a fresh New York Times-CBS News-Quinnipiac poll out this morning found President Obama's edge there growing.
In Ohio, Obama leads Romney, 53 percent to 43 percent - that's up from the president's 50 percent to 44 percent lead in a previous poll on August 23. The findings also track with other public polling available in the state that shows Obama out in front.
The new number, however, do not jibe with the message coming from the Romney campaign. Yesterday the campaign's political director, Rich Beeson, told reporters: "There's still 42 days to go. We are by any stretch inside the margin of error in Ohio. And the Obama campaign is going to have some problems there."
And while a lot can change between now and Election Day, the weight of evidence is simply not on Romney's side.
This morning ABC News moved the state of Ohio and its 18 electoral votes from "Toss Up" territory to "Lean Obama." This puts the ABC Electoral College estimate at 255 for Obama to 206 for Romney. Without a drastic change in Ohio that means there are only seven battlegrounds left for Romney to capture in his quest for the presidency, including the state of Florida with its 29 electoral votes.
But today's New York Times-CBS News-Quinnipiac poll also forecasted a gloomy picture for Romney in the Sunshine State. There Obama leads Romney by a 9 point margin, 53 percent to 44 percent. That's also an improvement on the president's 49 percent to 46 percent margin over Romney in the same poll in late August.
"The polls, along with interviews with supporters and advisers in the nation's two largest battleground states, lay bare an increasingly urgent challenge facing Mr. Romney as he prepares for his next chance to move the race in his favor, at the first debate with Mr. Obama next week," The New York Times' Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg note. "Mr. Romney's burden is no longer to win over undecided voters, but also to woo back the voters who seem to be growing a little comfortable with the idea of a second term for Mr. Obama." http://nyti.ms/QTeECU
ABC's DAVID MUIR reported on Mitt Romney and President Obama's dueling rallies today in the Buckeye State. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/RhiLuG
And ABC News Political Analyst NICOLLE WALLACE spoke with George Stephanopoulos this morning about what it's going to take for Romney to turn things around. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/OpCv14
OBAMA'S BIG LEAD WITH OHIO, FLORIDA WOMEN. According to Quinnipiac University's pollster Peter Brown: "Obama leads 60 - 35 percent among Ohio women likely voters, while men support Romney 52 - 44 percent. White voters back Romney by a narrow 49 - 46 percent, while 98 percent of black voters back the president. Independent voters are split with 47 percent for Romney and 46 percent for Obama. The economy is the most important issue for 49 percent of Ohio voters, while 21 percent list health care; 12 percent list the budget deficit and 5 percent list national security." http://bit.ly/VEuZhV
And in Florida: "Women likely voters back Obama 58 - 39 percent while men are divided with 50 percent for Romney and 47 percent for Obama. Hispanic voters go Democratic 55 - 41 percent while independent voters are split with 49 percent for Romney and 46 percent for Obama. The economy is the most important issue for 47 percent of Florida voters, while 20 percent list health care; 10 percent list the budget deficit and 8 percent list national security."
ADVANTAGE ROMNEY ON BUDGET DEFICIT. "Voters tip to Romney 48 - 46 percent on who would do a better job on the budget deficit," in the state of Florida, Quinnipiac University pollster Peter Brown wrote today. And in Ohio: "Romney would do a better job on the budget deficit, voters say 49 - 45." http://bit.ly/VEuZhV
PAUL RYAN GOES LOCAL - PASSING THE 100 LOCAL INTERVIEW MARK. Since Mitt Romney tapped the Wisconsin congressman to be his running mate on August 11, Paul Ryan has sat for more than 150 television, radio and newspaper interviews with the vast majority of those taking place at the local and regional level. By the campaign's count and an ABC News tally Ryan passed the 100 local interview mark last weekend, and so far, has chalked up something on the order of 108 since early August with more on the way. A typical day for Ryan can include five or more interviews. Take last Saturday, for example. Ryan sat for interviews with the ABC and Fox affiliates in Miami, the NBC station in West Palm Beach and the CBS, Fox and NBC affiliates in Orlando as well one central Florida cable channel. On Monday local stations in Dayton and Lima, Ohio as well as one in Fort Wayne, Indiana got time with the vice presidential hopeful. On Tuesday, Ryan taped interviews with three affiliates in Cincinnati. And on Wednesday, he will talk to a Denver radio program and television stations in Denver and Colorado Springs during his visit to Colorado. Ryan has far outdistanced his Democratic counterpart, Vice President Joe Biden, on the local interview circuit though Biden has kept up a busy pace on the campaign trail. The Romney-Ryan campaign's local television strategy seems straightforward: It's viewers in these key swing-state markets they need to reach heading into Election Day. The data-driven team in Boston can pinpoint the exact markets where they need to deploy Ryan and, for that matter, Romney and his wife, Ann, who also have busy local interview schedules. The subsequent coverage bolsters the paid advertising dollars they are pumping into those areas. Romney-Ryan campaign aides say they plan to keep Ryan on a steady diet of local interviews heading into Nov. 6. http://abcn.ws/RXJnDy
ANALYSIS: CAN DEBATES REVERSE ROMNEY'S FORTUNES? From ABC's Amy Walter: With just one week to go until the first presidential debate, both sides are already deep into spin mode. Both want to set a low bar for their own candidate to be able to clear, while setting expectations sky high for their opponent. … Gallup reported back in 2008 that "presidential debates are rarely game changers" and pointed to just a "few instances in which the debates may have had a substantive impact on election outcomes." Fortunately for Romney, one of those "instances" featured a candidate who was trailing in the polls going into the debates, but came out of the debates - and the election - a winner. That candidate, George W. Bush, did lose the popular vote. And, he did get some help from the Supreme Court. But, the fact remains that Bush came into the debates down 8 points to Al Gore, but came out of the debate period ahead by 4 points. http://abcn.ws/P4BjKM
ROMNEY SETS DEBATE EXPECTATIONS: OBAMA 'WILL DO JUST FINE.' With just over one week to go before he faces President Obama in their first debate, Mitt Romney lowered expectations a hair, noting it is his first time in a presidential debate and his opponent is an "eloquent, gifted speaker," ABC's Sunlen Miller reports. "The president is obviously a very eloquent, gifted speaker - he'll do just fine," Gov. Mitt Romney told Fox News in an interview from Dayton, Ohio today, "I've, you know, I've never been in a presidential debate like this and it will be a new experience." Romney said that the American people will make "their assessment as to who's the better speaker," but he believes that regardless they'll be drawn to his plan for the nation. The first of three presidential debates is Oct. 3, next Thursday, at the University of Denver.
ABC/POST POLL: 6 IN 10 VIEW ROMNEY'S CAMPAIGN EFFORTS NEGATIVELY. Public criticism of Romney's campaign is growing, ABC's Gary Langer reports: Sixty-one percent in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll hold an unfavorable view of how Romney's handling his presidential campaign, up by 12 percentage points since mid-July. Far fewer, 35 percent, rate Romney's performance positively, essentially unchanged. Barack Obama's ratings for handling his campaign are substantially better, 54-43 percent, favorable-unfavorable. And while ratings of Romney's campaign have grown more negative, favorable ratings of Obama's campaign efforts have gained 8 points since July. http://abcn.ws/VDwLQp
with ABC's Chris Good ( @c_good)
ABC/YAHOO! VIDEO: MUST WIN: DEBATE ADVICE FROM FORMER MCCAIN-PALIN AIDE. In the latest installment of "Top Line," former George W. Bush and McCain-Palin communications aide Nicole Wallace tells ABC's Amy Walter and Rick Klein that the Romney campaign has to stop the "self-inflicted" mistakes. Wallace: "The opportunity for Romney is similar to the opportunity John Kerry had in 2004, where his campaign had been stumbling a bit, and he came out in that first debate, and he actually stood shoulder to shoulder with George W. Bush and kicked his rear end." http://yhoo.it/QEygdL
ROMNEY SAYS OBAMA DIDN'T RAISE TAXES. Mitt Romney and his campaign have repeatedly criticized President Obama for raising taxes during his first term, but on the stump in Ohio on Tuesday, Romney said the president didn't. ABC"s Gregory J. Krieg reports: In the midst of remarks otherwise ridiculing the president's tax record, Romney said: "I admit this, [President Obama] has one thing he did not do in his first four years - he's said he's going to do in the next four years, which is to raise taxes." Behind him, Ryan appeared to wince at the mention. http://abcn.ws/UuwzR7
NOTED: ROMNEY CAMPAIGN CORRECTS. Romney was talking about tax rates, a spokeswoman said. From ABC's Gregory J. Krieg: "President Obama has raised taxes on millions of middle-class Americans during his first term in office," spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said in a statement. "Governor Romney was clearly communicating about an additional tax increase President Obama is proposing on American small businesses that will jeopardize over 700,000 jobs. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will stop the President's tax increases, create 12 million new jobs, and turn our economy around." http://abcn.ws/UuwzR7
OBAMA, ROMNEY VULNERABLE ON DEFICIT PROMISES. As a candidate, President Obama promised to cut deficits in half by the end of his first term. The New York Times' Jackie Calmes reports: "[T]he deficit for the fiscal year that ends on Sunday will surpass $1 trillion for the fourth straight time. Against that headline-grabbing figure, Mr. Obama's explanation-that the deficit he inherited is actually on a path to be cut in half just a year later than he promised, measured as a percentage of the economy's total output-risks sounding professorial at best. … Because Mr. Romney would delay his Medicare changes for a decade to exempt current beneficiaries and those nearing eligibility, the savings would not help him keep his promise to balance the budget in 8 to 10 years." http://nyti.ms/SlvbCH
ANN ROMNEY REVISITS EMERGENCY LANDING ON 'TONIGHT SHOW.' ABC's Sunlen Miller reports: Ann Romney said the air scare she had last week happened so fast there wasn't time to panic and recalled the details of the flight diversion, resulting in her plane making an emergency landing in Denver. "I was just watching a movie and I could see out of the corner of my eye there were a lot of hustle and bustle going by me," Ann Romney told Jay Leno on the Tonight Show, "and all of a sudden my movie goes off and I turn around and I look at everybody and I'm like 'oh, there's smoke in the cockpit and there it was.'" She explained her husband's subsequent comment afterward at a fundraiser when he joked that he didn't know why the windows on the plane don't open. "It's his way of making light of how worried he is about me," she said, "It's his way of dealing with the panic of knowing how dangerous this was."
ROMNEY JOKES: PORTMAN PLAYS BIDEN TOO WELL. ABC's Sunlen Miller reports from Vandalia, Ohio: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney joked today that Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio., plays President Obama so well in their debate prep session that afterwards he wants to "kick him out of the room." "He plays Barack Obama, he plays him well, too," Romney told the crowd gathered for a rally at the Dayton International Airport where Portman appeared with him today. "After the, you know, hour and a half or so is over, I'm like, I want to kick him out of the room he's so good." http://abcn.ws/PlCEhF
ROMNEY, RYAN RESPOND TO REID ON MORMONISM. After Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Mitt Romney has "sullied" the LDS faith and "is not the face of Mormonism," ABC's Sunlen Miller reports: Romney said he does not have a specific response to Reid, adding, "He could say whatever he'd like to say. This isn't a race about Harry Reid. This is a race about President Obama and my differences in points of view about the direction of this country." VP presidential nominee Paul Ryan was a little stronger in his response. "We always get over the top comments from Harry Reid," Ryan said, "We are used to hearing things like this come from Harry. These kinds of comments have no place in…look, we are offering this country a real clear choice….. that's what this election is going to be about, irrespective of whatever Harry Reid says on the Senate floor."
OBAMA 'GOOFED OFF WAY TOO MUCH' IN GRADE SCHOOL. ABC's Devin Dwyer reports: At a forum on education issues in New York City today, President Obama was asked whether he had ever failed a test in grade school, to which he replied, "Oh, yes." "Absolutely," Obama said. "You know, I would say I was a mediocre student until I got to college. I goofed off way too much." http://abcn.ws/SlyoCe
RYAN COMPARES OBAMA TO REPLACEMENT REFS. ABC's John Parkinson reports from Cincinnati: "I'm going to start off with something that was really troubling that occurred last night. Did you guys watch that Packer game last night? I mean give me a break!" Ryan complained. "It is time to get the real refs." … "It reminds me of President Obama and the economy. If you can't get it right, it's time to get out. I half-think that these refs work part-time for the Obama administration and the Budget Office," Ryan said. http://abcn.ws/VHDIA5
OBAMA TELLS ABC NEWS: WE NEED THE REFS BACK. ABC's Devin Dwyer reports: President Obama today called the outcome of the game "terrible," after a controversial call by the referees cost the Packers a win. "I've been saying for months, we've got to get our refs back," Obama said in response to a question from ABC News. He was referring to the use of replacement referees during an ongoing league lock-out of official crews. http://abcn.ws/SQX1D7
ROMNEY, RYAN, OBAMA AGREE ON REFS. All it takes is a series of bad calls to bring Republicans and Democrats together on a labor dispute. Mitt Romney told CNN's Jim Acosta: "I'd sure like to see some experienced referees with NFL experience come back on the NFL playing fields."
IT'S OFFICIAL: TODD AKIN'S ON THE BALLOT. The drop-out deadline passed on Tuesday, and Todd Akin remains a candidate for U.S. Senate in Missouri, having resisted pressure from GOP leaders to withdraw. Sen. Jim DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund is weighing an endorsement. The group polled its supporters today via e-mail on whether they would support SCF backing Akin. Akin spokesman Rick Tyler told ABC this week that he expects several groups to begin spending on Akin's behalf. http://abcn.ws/Qw6rqJ
ROMNEY: OBAMA 'HASN'T WANTED TO LEVEL' ON BENGHAZI. ABC's Sunlen Miller reports: Stopping just short of calling the Obama administration's handling of the Libya attack a cover-up, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said that the president "hasn't wanted to level" and come "clean" with what really happened during the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, where U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed this month. "The White House and the President are continuing not to admit what their own administration is saying, and I think it is pretty clear that they haven't wanted to level with the American people," Romney said this evening in an interview on Fox News taped today in Dayton, Ohio. http://abcn.ws/UtM23P
IN THE NOTE'S INBOX:
-OBAMA WEB VIDEO: ROMNEY ISN'T TOUGH ON CHINA. A new web video attacks Romney for stock holdings disclosed on his tax returns: "'China is stealing American ideas and technology.' That's what Mitt Romney says in his campaign. But when it comes to making money, those Chinese companies suit him just fine. Romney invested in China's version of YouTube, a haven for stealing American videos. And Romney's even invested in a Chinese electronics company being sued by Microsoft for pirating its software. If Romney really wanted China to stop stealing, why would he send them his money?" http://bit.ly/UUBq0X
-MCCAIN, GRAHAM, AYOTTE BLAST 'BUMPS IN THE ROAD.' The Romney campaign e-mails a statement from Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Kelly Ayotte: ""President Obama recently said the broader Middle East has been experiencing some 'bumps in the road.' If the President had taken some time to hold even one meeting with his foreign colleagues during his visit to the U.N. General Assembly in New York today, perhaps they would have told him what has really happened in the Middle East on his watch. It is not a 'bump in the road' when American embassies, and those of our friends and allies, are attacked by hateful mobs who also murder their fellow citizens, allegedly because of a disgusting and bigoted video. That is the result of extremists who would seize on any opportunity to further their ideological agenda - extremists who have been gaining ground over the past two years."
-SCOTT BROWN CALLS ON ELIZABETH WARREN TO RELEASE LIST OF CORPORATE CLIENTS. Scott Brown's re-election campaign will send a letter to the Warren campaign this morning calling on Warren to release her complete list of corporate clients during her time at Harvard. "Voters deserve to know your full involvement in these types of cases. Therefore, I am calling on you to provide a complete accounting of your corporate legal clients during your time at Harvard" Brown writes in the letter. The request comes on the heels of the news that Warren represented two large corporations- LTV Steel, a coal mining company, in the 1990's, and Travelers Insurance in 2009.
-ELIZABETH WARREN RELEASES NEW TV AD: CLEAR CHOICE. Elizabeth Warren's senate campaign is out with a new TV ad today highlighting the differences between Warren and her Republican opponent, Senator Scott Brown. The 30 second spot is titled "Clear Choice" and attacks Brown for voting to block tax cuts unless there were more tax breaks for millionaires. WATCH: http://bit.ly/SkRus5
@markknoller : Since 1960, no one has won the presidency without taking at least two of FL, OH and PA. Both Pres Obama and Romney campaign today in OH.
@ThePlumLineGS : Can we all learn from these polls? The bad August jobs numbers had no impact on he race.
with ABC's Josh Haskell ( @HaskellBuzz)
-President Obama holds a campaign event at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio followed by an event at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.
-Mitt Romney holds rallies in Westerville and Toledo, Ohio and, in between, a manufactuing roundtable in Bedford Heights.
-Paul Ryan holds a town hall meeting in Fort Collins, Colorado and a rally in Colorado Springs.
-Vice President Joe Biden hosts a reception in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month at the Naval Observatory in Washington, DC.
Check out The Note's Futures Calendar : http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV