'Ohio has moved into the toss-up category’: Pence visit today the latest in southwest Ohio as election nears

As Election Day grows closer, candidates for the two presidential campaigns and their surrogates are popping in and out of key election states, which includes Ohio.

The latest happens today, when Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to speak at Lunken Airport. That follows visits to Cincinnati last week by former Vice President Joe Biden and Ivanka Trump, President Donald Trump’s daughter, and a pair of events in the Miami Valley last month featuring Trump and Donald Trump, Jr.

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Pence’s wife, Karen Pence, will visit Cedar Springs Pavilion in Tipp City (the same venue Donald Trump Jr. visited on Sept. 30) at 1 p.m. Thursday.

Both Trump and Biden were in Ohio on Sept. 29 at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland for the first presidential debate.

There aren’t any planned presidential candidate visits to the Buckeye State after Thursday, but stops can be added to the schedule with two weeks before Election Day on Nov. 3.

Ohio was not being considered a swing state this summer, but “it has moved that way," said Chris Kelley, Miami University political science professor.

“As a result of the post-convention period and the president’s deteriorating (poll) numbers, particularly as the coronavirus has gotten worse, Ohio has moved into the toss-up category," he said.

Trump won Ohio in 2016 by 8.1 percent, or 446,841 votes, and received the majority of votes in 80 of 88 counties.

By contrast, the Obama-Biden ticket won Ohio in 2012 by 2.98 percent, or 166,270 votes, and received the majority of votes in 17 counties. The same Democratic ticket won the state in 2008 by 4.6 percent, or 262,224 votes, and received the majority of votes in 20 counties.

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Various polls show Trump and Biden narrowly leading the other, including polls from Rasmussen (Tuesday) and Quinnipiac University (Oct. 14) that show Biden with a one-point lead, while others from Civiqs (Oct. 15) and Morning Consult (Oct. 13) show Trump with a three-point lead.

Biden toured eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania by train the day after the Sept. 29 presidential debate. His Oct. 12 visit to Cincinnati was his first to southwest Ohio since the start of early voting two weeks ago.

Though the Biden and Trump campaigns have no scheduled Ohio stops over the next two weeks, that doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t be added, said Kelley.

Kelley said voters should expect the candidates or their surrogates to make more campaign stops in Ohio between now and Election Day.

“If (either of the campaigns) sense that parts of the state are either are eroding or breaking to their advantage and they want to try to secure that, absolutely," Kelley said. “We’re going to see a lot of them in a way I didn’t think Ohio would see."

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