If Romney loses Ohio, Obama wins big

Rick Klein, Amy Walter, Richard Coolidge & Sherisse Pham
Power Players

Top Line

For all the talk of polls, and where President Obama and challenger Mitt Romney stand nationally, the 2012 presidential election will be decided in eight battleground states: Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Virginia, New Hampshire, and Florida.

The current state of the electoral college map must be a difficult one for Romney to look at -- all eight of those swing states voted for Obama four years ago. When you zoom in a bit, little Ohio is just enormous in 2012. If Ohio's 18 electoral votes go to Obama, it would be almost impossible for Romney to win; if he lost Ohio, the Republican candidate would have to take just about every other battleground state to get to the White House.

There is no indication that the Romney campaign is even competing in Michigan and Pennsylvania, states that the Romney folks once said they could make some inroads because of the demographic makeup. Michigan and Pennsylvania are currently not solidly Democratic, but instead lean Democratic.

And neither candidate has advertised in the tossup state of Wisconsin. Romney will be the first to play in the Badger State on Wednesday, and we are curious to see what the Obama campaign does. Obama does not have the same amount of money as Republicans. In order to expand the electoral college map, the campaign has to prioritize its goals, i.e. do they give up on North Carolina, which leans Republican, to defend themselves in Wisconsin, and hence cut off every path to victory for Romney?

Now if Romney can get either Michigan or Wisconsin to go red, it would be a very different ball game. All the small states would become very important because both campaigns want to avoid a 269-269 electoral vote split. That's why all the principal players visited tiny New Hampshire to court its 4 electoral votes.

But in a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, Obama not only got a post-convention bounce, more respondents also said they trust the president is better at handling the economy than Romney would be. And you can't win these swing states -- especially a place like Ohio and its 18 electoral votes -- if voters don't think you can do a better job on the economy.

So the real question is -- why isn't Top Line fleeing Washington, D.C., and setting up shop in Cincinnati or Cleveland? Game on.

If you live in one of those eight swing states, especially Ohio, the center of it all, we'd love to hear from you. Tell us what it's like to be a voter in a crucial battleground state in the comments section below.