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Anyone who has traveled outside Ohio this fall has likely heard some variation of this from folks in other states who have even a passing interest in politics:
“So, how does it feel to actually have a vote that matters?” or “Lucky you, in this election your vote actually counts.”
It’s a quirk in presidential politics that Ohio has evolved from simply a bellwether state — Ohio has not voted for the loser in a presidential election since 1960 — to one where the electoral expectations have risen to an unprecedented level. Both the Obama and Romney campaigns have pegged the state as first among the various swing states.
Which explains why northwest Ohio has been deluged with visits from President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on the Democratic side and former Massacusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and his veep running mate Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan on the Republican ticket.
From diners to high school football fields, no turf has been left untrod by the candidates eager to frame themselves in images of Americana. They shake hands, peck cheeks, dole out hugs, kiss babies, raise money, give speeches, and move on with plans to return soon for more of the same.
It’s exciting and flattering because at this level the President and his challenger are political rock stars. Meeting the leader of the free world in a local diner and shaking hands with him and engaging in a bit of chit-chat is a once-in-a-lifetime thing that isn’t so likely if you’re living in northwest Indiana or Missouri.
But at the same time this also is serious business, especially in a race that appears to be as close as the one that unfolds Tuesday. The stakes are incredibly high — who is going to lead this country over the next four years? — and they haven’t been making the rounds here over the past year just for kicks.
They need us because our votes matter.
Contact Rod Lockwood at: email@example.com or 419-724-6159.