On the final day of the 2012 campaign for the White House, President Obama and Mitt Romney made the last push for votes in states each believed critical to achieving the 270 Electoral College votes needed for victory.
Obama was scheduled to campaign in three swing states, while Romney had events planned in four. The only overlap was in Ohio, considered the linchpin of the election.
Obama started the day with a morning event in Madison, Wis., the Badger State’s capital, home to its flagship public university and, aside from Milwaukee, one of the most Democratic-leaning areas in the state.
Then it was on to Columbus in all important Ohio for an afternoon rally. It was another state capital with a flagship state university, Ohio State University.
The president was scheduled to end the day with a rally Des Moines, Iowa. The symbolism was inescapable. Iowa was where Obama’s presidential fortunes took flight in 2008 after he beat Hillary Clinton to win the state’s Democratic caucuses.
With the exception of Ohio, Obama was going to states he could probably lose and still — under credible scenarios — capture enough electoral votes to achieve a second term. Political experts have said for some time that because of states that are presumed to be either Republican or Democratic sure things, the path to an Electoral College victory is wider for Obama than Romney.
Romney had events in Florida, Virginia, Ohio and New Hampshire. The first three are considered must-wins for Romney under many scenarios.
Romney began the day with a rally at the airport in Orlando, Fla. Recent polls in the Sunshine State have been mixed, but many experts think Romney may have a small advantage there in part because of his leads among certain key voter groups, including older white voters, white men and Cuban Americans.
After Florida, Romney had scheduled rallies in Virginia, specifically Lynchburg, in central Virginia, a conservative part of the state, and Fairfax County in Northern Virginia, the bluest part of a formally reliably red state. Obama handily won Fairfax County just outside Washington, D.C., in 2008, which allowed him to become the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the state since 1964.
Virginia, like Florida, is considered a state that is very close, with most recent polls within the margin of error.
A stop in the same Ohio city that was on Obama’s schedule, Columbus, was also on Romney’s itinerary. For Romney to win Ohio, it would help if he could reduce the margin of victory Obama enjoyed in 2008 over Sen. John McCain in Franklin County, where Columbus resides. Obama won Franklin by 21 percentage points.
No Republican has won the White House without winning Ohio, which now accounts for 18 electoral votes. Recent polls have virtually all giving Obama the lead in the Buckeye State, though the size of his lead has narrowed appreciably.
Romney was scheduled to end the day with a rally in New Hampshire. As with Obama and Iowa, there was symbolism for Romney in ending his campaign in the Granite State. He has long owned a summer home there. What’s more, it was on a supporter’s New Hampshire farm that in 2011 he officially kicked off this, his second race for the White House.