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Ohio in the spotlight -

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Ohio in the spotlight

The World Today - Tuesday, 28 October , 2008 12:26:00

ELEANOR HALL: Senator John McCain, is campaigning today in the state that was the key to the
Republican victory in the last Presidential race - Ohio.

The high turnout of religious Republicans there swung the election for George W. Bush in 2004. Now
the state is bearing the brunt of the US economic downturn. So will it deliver for Senator McCain
this time?

One of those with his eye on Ohio's voting trends is the University of Cincinnati 's Dr Eric
Rademacher.

He is the Director of the Ohio Poll and he spoke to me a short time ago from Cincinnati.

ELEANOR HALL: Eric Rademacher, Ohio was the key state at the last election. John McCain is
campaigning there today. How critical is it for the Republicans to win this state?

ERIC RADEMACHER: Well it's extremely critical. No Republican president has ever been elected
without winning the state of Ohio, going back to 1860. And so not only is that history important to
the McCain campaign, but also when they look at the electoral vote map which is going to be very
important, Ohio's 20 electoral votes will be key in whether or not they can win the presidency.

ELEANOR HALL: Now last month your poll was showing Senator McCain with the slim lead over Barack
Obama. What are your numbers telling you now?

ERIC RADEMACHER: Well what we're seeing really here in Ohio is that the momentum has shifted to the
Obama-Biden ticket. About 49 per cent of Ohio likely voters are now saying they'll vote for Obama,
46 per cent are saying they'll vote for John McCain and Sarah Palin.

Just as important as that three point difference is that we're seeing more Democrats expressing
excitement about the election and our Republicans so we're seeing some energy on the Democratic
side now that exceeds that of the Republicans and that votes well for turn out on behalf of the
Obama Campaign.

ELEANOR HALL: So what do you think is driving that energy?

ERIC RADEMACHER: Well part of it has been the amount of time that Barack Obama has spent in the
state recently. The other thing that's going on is as you well know is that the state of Ohio is in
dire economic straits right now. Whether you're looking at an area like south-west Ohio, the
Cincinnati area where there's a lot of concerns about just the money that people have in their
pocket to buy goods, other parts of the state are suffering from 10 to 11 per cent unemployment.

There's a wide variety of different economic issues we're facing around the state and when we ask
people about how they're going to vote, the more concerned they are about the economy, the more
likely they are to tell us that they're going to vote for the Obama-Biden ticket.

ELEANOR HALL: Of course last time it was the religious voters who swung the election in favour of
George W. Bush. How important are they in Ohio this time?

ERIC RADEMACHER: Well you know I think that remains to be seen, that was a big part of the final
week turnout effort. We're watching very closely the ground gain that both the Obama campaign and
the McCain campaign are trying to run here in Ohio.

Obama's very well organised and McCain is using some of President Bush's campaign staff to work and
organise here in Ohio. So we're going to be watching what kinds of issues, what sorts of topics
they're talking about because they're really going to be looking to energise voters here in this
last week and then get them to the polls next Tuesday.

ELEANOR HALL: yes it was absolutely critical the turn out last time. Is Ohio one of those states
that allows early voting?

ERIC RADEMACHER: It is and you know another one of these issues that we're watching and
unfortunately you know we've got some crystal balls but we won't know for sure until Election Day.

We're watching carefully to see these early voters, whether they're new voters or whether they're
voters that are just taking advantage of the early voting but would have normally voted on election
day.

If they are new voters that could mean two things. One, we may have a different electorate
demographically than we've had in some time here in the state. We also know that if those early
voters are younger minority voters, that's going to also favour Senator Obama and again could
deliver him to victory on election day.

ELEANOR HALL: And what are you finding so far?

ERIC RADEMACHER: So far again it's difficult to tell but we are seeing that at the very least the
Obama campaign has done a very good job of immobilising these voters in some of the traditionally
Democratic areas.

ELEANOR HALL: And Dr Rademacher the Republican campaign has turned sharply negative recently. Is
this negative portrayal of Senator Obama resonating with the Ohio voters you speak to?

ERIC RADEMACHER: Well it doesn't seem to be resonating en masse but part of what's going on is that
there's momentum both here in the state of Ohio and behind the Obama campaign nationwide and that
negative effort is really geared towards first trying to stop that momentum and then trying to turn
it around and I think it's a little bit late in the campaign for those negative kinds of attacks to
do both. Meaning both stop the momentum and turn the campaign around. But they're certainly you
know giving it a shot and we'll see how it goes on election day.

ELEANOR HALL: What's your take on the Bradley effect? Do you think there will be a racial backlash
against Barack Obama in the final instance when people make their choice?

ERIC RADEMACHER: Well you know, I think we're kidding ourselves if we say that there's no voters
who are going to go into the polling booth, no matter where you are in the United States and that
there's no voter that's going to vote on race.

I think there are some voters out there who are going to go to the polls and vote against Barack
Obama because of his race. But I will tell you that we've also been studying age over the course of
this election and we've found that some voters are also very sceptical about John McCain because of
his age.

The other thing is that one of the thing is that, one of the things we've talked to people about is
that yes race may be an issue for some voters but they're also hurting very much economically. And
so some of those voters are indeed going to vote with their pocket book and put race aside in terms
of their vote choice.

ELEANOR HALL: Dr Rademacher thanks very much for speaking to us.

ERIC RADEMACHER: Thank you.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the director of the Ohio Poll, Dr Eric Rademacher from the University of
Cincinnati.