James Zogby, founder and president of the Arab-American Institute, speaks during the annual Chicken Paprikas Dinner at St. Stephen’s Hall on Sunday.
THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT
Toledo-area voters will decide the presidential election, said James Zogby, president of the Arab-American Institute who made several area stops this weekend, touting the role of Lucas County and Toledo in determining the nation’s president.
“From everything I’m hearing right now, as this county goes, so goes Ohio, and as Ohio goes, so goes the nation. So in many ways, you are going to play the role of the decider,” said James Zogby, an executive committee member of the Democratic National Committee, in an interview with The Blade on Sunday. He is founder of Zogby Research Services, which does polling across the Arab world.
His brother, pollster John Zogby, founder of the “Zogby Poll,” discussed his latest Ohio polling in a Sunday telephone interview with The Blade. John Zogby, of Zogby Analytics, said his Ohio polling has President Obama ahead of Republican Mitt Romney by eight points, with a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.
“You know anything can happen, but at this point in time it’s certainly looking in Obama’s favor,” said John Zogby.
The online poll, he said, included 827 Ohio voters who already voted or are likely to vote. The poll’s time line was Nov. 1-3. It showed Obama trending 50 percent to 42 percent in a two-way race over Mr. Romney, with 8 percent undecided. Mr. Obama led 49 percent to Mr. Romney’s 41 percent when three other presidential candidates were included in the poll.
In northwest Ohio, including Lucas County, he shows Mr. Romney with 53 percent to Mr. Obama’s 37 percent. He said Mr. Obama has the edge in northeast and central Ohio, and Mr. Romney is up in southeast Ohio. He said the southwest part of the state, including Cincinnati, is polling at a tie. He said the regional poll results are based on small sub-samples.
James Zogby said Lucas County’s diversity is one reason he thinks the area will play a deciding role in this election. He expects it to be close and said voter turnout is the key issue.
“It’s got the great demographic composition of America,” he said. “This place has greater diversity, a greater ... mix than anywhere I know.”
Romney campaign spokesman Chris Maloney said the poll “would be viewed as an outlier,” and said the race is a "toss-up.” Mr. Maloney said Mr. Obama is "laying out a course that's much like the last four years," which contrasts with Mr. Romney’s “hopeful vision.”
“So that’s what voters are looking to hear about, and that’s why we feel we have momentum in this race,” he said.
Lucas County Republican Party chairman Jon Stainbrook said polls can be skewed and each must be taken “with a little grain of salt.”
“You can make all the predictions you want, and it’s all crystal ball,” he said. “If [John] Zogby had the ability to actually predict the future, he could predict lottery numbers.”
The Obama campaign said polls will go up and down, but its focus is on encouraging people to vote and to vote early.
“In Ohio, we will continue to run the race like we’re five down because that’s what we need to stay focused,” said Obama Ohio spokesman Jessica Kershaw.
A similar message was shared by James Zogby Sunday night during one of his local stops -- the Chicken Paprikas Dinner, a traditional Democratic event held at St. Stephen’s Hall in East Toledo which also served as a fund-raiser for state Rep. Matthew Szollosi (D., Oregon).
James Zogby told the estimated 600-person crowd to encourage others to vote. ’’You decide for all of us,” he said during his speech at the dinner.
Before the dinner, which featured introductions of a long list of Democratic officials and candidates, Mr. Szollosi said he, too, thinks the presidential race “could be determined by what happens in Lucas County” and said a substantial voter turnout bodes well for the President. His goal for the dinner was to send people home “with full bellies” and with the knowledge “that it’s time to sprint.”
Others at the event, including U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) echoed those thoughts. In an interview during the dinner, Miss Kaptur said she witnessed “high energy” and enthusiasm among early voters.
During the interview with The Blade, James Zogby also talked about the nation’s polarized state of politics and said compromise “doesn’t happen anymore.” He said Mr. Obama is the victim, not the cause, of a “low-simmer civil war” and has faced an attack on the legitimacy of his presidency. He said the fractious political environment goes back to the era of President Bill Clinton and became more intense during the 2000 election.
James Zogby also said polling indicates Arab Americans will vote to re-elect the President by a 2-1 margin, with 15 percent undecided. But, he believes those undecided voters tilt Democratic.
Contact Vanessa McCray at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or 419-724-6065.