Our Ohio poll this week found 7% of voters undecided and 9% of those who do have a current preference open to changing their minds between now and the election. That means Barack Obama and John McCain will be fighting over a group of voters that comprises about 15% of the electorate over the final six and a half weeks of the campaign.
Who are these persuadable voters?
-They have a more Democratic lean than voters who have their minds made up. 15% more are Democrats than Republicans, compared to a 6% Democratic party identification advantage in the population at large. This is a function of two things. First, Republicans in the state are pretty universally lined up around and committed to John McCain. Second, there is a segment of Democrats in Ohio that is still pretty unsure about Obama- not to the extent that they're crossing right over to the Republicans, but they still need to be convinced by the Democratic nominee that he's worthy of their support.
-Perhaps on a related note, these voters disproportionately live in small towns and few live in urban areas. For the state as a whole 18% of voters described their location as urban while 20% said it was a small town. Among those folks whose support is up for grabs just 12% are urban and 25% are in small towns. Barack Obama and his surrogates may need to work in more visits to places like Portsmouth and Lima over the rest of the campaign along with trips to shore up the base and increase turnout in urban areas of strength.
-Finally, these voters are older than the population at large. Issues like Social Security and Medicare may be particularly important to emphasize with these folks in this time of economic uncertainty.
Whichever candidate can win over this small remaining segment of the population that doesn't have it minds firmly made up may have the inside track to victory in Ohio.