Big Defense Sector State In Spotlight As Obama Opens Bigger Lead There

U.S. President Barack Obama campaigns at Schiller Park in Columbus, Ohio, on Sept. 17 // Brendan Smialowski, AFP

One state considered key to the defense industrial base is in the national spotlight as the presidential campaign hits the autumn homestretch.

Political pundits and defense firms’ government relations shops are no doubt closely examining the data behind a Quinnipiac University/CBS News poll that shows President Barack Obama has a sizeable lead in Ohio (as well as Pennsylvania and Florida).

The president leads his GOP challenger among polled likely voters 53 percent to 43 percent in Ohio. Obama’s lead in the Buckeye State is widening; he led by 6 percentage points in late August.

The Romney campaign seems to realize it has an Ohio problem, Romney and his running mate, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., are in the midst of a bus tour of the state.

The GOP candidates have used a defense-themed message in Ohio, spending campaign cash on an ad that blames Obama for the possible cuts in three key swing states.

The Romney ad builds off one of his campaign’s major themes: The American people are not better off than when Obama was elected in 2008. The spot features a large photo of the president with these words beside him in large lettering: “Defense Cuts Will Weaken National Security.” Referring to Obama, an announcer calls the pending Pentagon budget reductions “his defense cuts.”

The television ad is airing in North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia, states strategists say are keys to a Romney electoral college win.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney walks to his campaign bus after a rally Sept. 25 at Dayton International Airport in Ohio. (AFP PHOTO/Mandel Ngan)

The ads warn the sequester cuts would “threaten” 20,000 Ohio jobs. The ad vows that after thwarting the cuts, Romney would “create 450,000 new jobs in Ohio.”

The Quinnipiac-CBS poll also shows Obama with a 53 percent to 44 percent lead in Florida, and a 54 percent to 42 percent lead among likely voters in Pennsylvania.

“The wide difference between the two candidates is not just a result of Romney’s bad week,” Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a statement. “In Ohio and Florida votes are basically split down the middle on whether the county and they and their families are worse or better off than they were four years ago. If voters don’t think they are worse off, it is difficult to see them throwing out an incumbent whose personal ratings with voters remains quite high.

“The president’s strength results from the fact that for the first time in the entire campaign, he is seen as better able to fix the economy than is Romney, the issue that has been the Republican’s calling card since the general election campaign began,” Brown said. “And the economy remains the overwhelming choice as the most important issue to voters’ presidential choice.”

John T. Bennett

John T. Bennett

Bennett is the Editor of Defense News' CongressWatch channel. He has a Masters degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
John T. Bennett