In one of the last polls of the campaign season, the election is too close to call. Ohio Poll director Eric Rademacher tells Alison Holm the numbers are close -- even closer than they were a week ago.
Rademacher: The final Ohio Poll on the presidential race found that 50% of Ohio voters favor Barack Obama. 49 favor Mitt Romney, and about 1% are planning to vote for one of the other candidates on the ballot. That race is squarely within the race's margin of error for the poll, so that's one particular race that we call “too close to call.” When we look at the race for the US senate, the poll found that 51% of voters favor Senator Sherrod Brown. 47% favor Josh Mandel, and an additional 3% say that they are going to vote for independent candidate Scott Rupert. This race is right on the line of the margin of error, so it does look as if Senator Brown is in position to retain his US senate seat, but, again, a very close for US senate, coming down tomorrow night.
Holm: What change do you notice between this and the previous poll?
Rademacher: There's a few different things going on in this particular poll. One is that we were still having a number of people, in really the last two or three polls that we've done, that were still thinking a good bit about which candidate that they're going to vote for, making up their minds, and, even more than that, just making some decisions about how firmly attached they were to these candidates. In this last polls, not surprisingly, over the final weekend, we really found that the voters were solidified in their decisions and feeling good about the candidates that they were selecting. So a much different electorate, one that was much more settled than we had seen in the previous polls.
Rademacher says that one of the new wrinkles in trying to quantify this election is the number of people who voted early -- either through absentee ballots or early in-person voting.
Rademacher: Our polls show that about 30 % of the people that we talked to had already cast the ballot even through early voting or absentee voting. What that says to it is that the old strategies of focusing just on election day turn out have really changed to strategies of the two campaigns have to really broaden out the campaign. beginning with early and absentee voting all the way up to election day. So there's some changes underway really in the way not only to people have access to the vote but also in the way that the campaigns are run here in Ohio.
Holm: What differences were you seeing in terms of who was casting the early votes?
Rademacher: Right, in our poll, the early vote does favor President Obama. And based on that, we would expect that once that the early votes are counted, there should be an advantage for the president on election day. Then the next piece will be seeing whether or not the ground game that Mitt Romney has on the part of his campaign is able to overcome that early vote and perhaps even exceed that. In this particular poll, what we see here, at the last minute is President Obama holding a narrow advantage. But it really is going to come out to the turn out, I think, which party is better able to bring its voters not only to the polls tomorrow but also was able to get those votes in via early voting and via the mail through absentee votes.