What's Going on in Ohio?

Or, why does Obama continue to hold a small lead in that state while national polls have the race a dead heat.

The three most recent Ohio polls (CNN, Time, and CBS/Quinnipiac) show President Obama with a lead of 4-5 points. Meanwhile, the latest ABC/Washington Post national tracking poll has the race a dead heat, with Romney at 49 percent and Obama at 48 percent.

How is that possible?

Three things: Democrats, white voters, and men.

1) The Democratic advantage in the Ohio polls is anywhere from 3-9 points (it was 8 points in 2008). Our latest national survey showed Democrats with a 4 point advantage on party identification. And, Obama is getting almost every single one of those Democrats to vote for him (anywhere between 92 to 94 percent). In 2008, Obama carried 89 percent of the Democratic vote.

2) In Ohio Obama does 7 to 11 points better among white voters and 7 to 12 points better among white men specifically than he does nationally. The three media polls from Ohio showed Romney getting between 49 to 53 percent of the white vote, while the ABC/Washington Post poll showed Romney winning white voters nationally with 60 percent of the vote. The CNN and CBS/Quinnipiac polls show Romney between winning 54 - 59 percent of white men . The ABC/Washington Poll shows Romney carrying white men by a whopping 66 percent.

3) Romney does better among men nationally than he does in Ohio. The national tracking poll shows Romney leading among men by 18 points. In Ohio, however, Romney's lead among men is a more modest 6 to 9 points. And, among women, Obama has anywhere from a 12 to 19 point lead over Romney.

The popularity of the auto bailout is one possible reason for Obama's success at holding onto a larger share of men - and particularly white men - in Ohio. Moreover, the millions of dollars of negative ads run against Romney in this state most certainly impacted his image among Ohio voters. Until the debates began, the only images that many Ohioans had of Romney was that he fired lots of people, shipped their jobs overseas and then hid all of his millions of dollars he made in overseas tax shelters.