11:00 a.m. E.T.
I’ve been back on the ground about 24 hours in the Buckeye State and here are my first impressions of the end game:
- People in both parties at the grassroots are hyper aware that Ohio will probably decide the presidential race. They are proud and taking the responsibility seriously.
- Many partisans on both sides are also really unsure if their guy will win. Normally, voters tell me confidently what’s going to happen. So far, many more people are asking ME who will take Ohio and the White House. (Unfortunately for them, I am no more able to tell people here the answer than I am people at 30 Rock.)
- Rob Portman has always been pushing hard for Romney; at Friday night’s rally, I, for the first time, saw Speaker Boehner and Governor Kasich lean in really hard to press for victory. Granted, I don’t see too many of their events, even on TV, but they both at this point seem fully on board and somewhat bullish on Romney’s chances (which hasn’t always been the case).
- Don’t kill me for the obvious, but the near absence of racial diversity in the Romney crowds is teased out further by the contrast with the rainbow the President draws. It is more striking than I have ever experienced it in any presidential campaign I have covered.
- The nastiness of the language on the signs of the astroturf bracketers outside all events is not something I think either presidential candidate would like.
- Everything I see, read, and hear leads me to believe that the Republicans have a CHANCE to leverage enthusiasm to make up at least some of the advantage the Democrats’ long-standing ground game gives the incumbent.
- The Ohio media is also very engaged in this race, although Sandy is filling a not insignificant portion of the news hole.