As US heads to a neck-to-neck battle between the two presidential candidates, the state of Ohio may hold the key to the eventual outcome, reports Rediff.com's Bikash Mohapatra from Ohio
It is Election Day in the United States today
As we approach the fag end of the campaign, the race for the top post seems to be a close one between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney.
Almost all the major exit polls suggest that the winning candidate will make it only by a fractional margin.
In such a scenario, it is the final push that might just do the trick and the state that may hold key to the eventual outcome is Ohio.
Historically a 'swing' state, otherwise referred to as a 'toss up', the Midwest state accounts for 18 electoral votes and hence is vital to the prospect of either candidate.
No wonder both Obama and Romney are giving equal attention to it in the final phase of their respective campaigns.
"Part of it is history. Ohio has an incredible record of going with the winners. It is also not as predictable as the other states," reasons analyst Joe Frolik.
For the record, Obama won the state en route to beating Republican John McCain in the presidential race in 2008.
Political expert Kevin O'Brien concurs.
"Every time there is an election in Ohio, both parties think they have a chance to win," he points out.
"The people of Ohio are more indecisive than the rest of the United States," he adds.
There are other reasons as to why Ohio holds the key to this election or for that matter any election in the country.
"A large section of the population is open-minded," explains Elizabeth Sullivan, a political journalist with the local newspaper The Plain Dealer.
"In fact, we say here that we are five different states in one," she continues, adding, "It's a very Democratic city surrounded by very Republican suburbs.
"Also I believe this election is going to be a lot closer and not your typical predictable one," she says.
If the opinion polls are to be believed, Obama is ahead of Romney by a whisker, largely owing to the auto bail-out package during his tenure that ensured jobs in the state. In fact the rate of unemployment in Ohio is far less than the national average, something the local politicians take pride in.
"The bail-out package has worked wonders for Obama. People are happy with him for that," affirms Peter Krouse, a political and legal expert from Shaker Heights suburb.
And that doesn't augur well for Romney, considering the state is such a critical battleground in the race to the White House. While state politicians and administrators take pride in its status as a toss up, they believe national leaders should also focus on the issues affecting the state after the elections.
"It is a blessing and curse for me to belong to a swing state," admits Senator Nina Turner, adding, "It has become an excess. As a swing state we get a lot of love and attention during the elections and I would love if that continues even after that".
"But the problem is, when the elections are over, the winning party doesn't get down to the business of serving the people," she says.
When urged to name her choice for the US President's post, the Senator opts for the incumbent.
"Of course I would like Obama to win. He deserves another four years so that he can focus on his plans without the worry of having to get re-elected," she reasons.
If the exit polls are anything to go by, the Senator might have got it spot on.
And that again is not good news for Romney.