It’s still very much a race in Ohio

A PPP poll of Ohio released last night gives President Obama a 49-45 lead. The margin of error is 3.5 points. PPP concludes: “It’s a mistake to think based on recent polling in Ohio that the race there is over. Obama is not popular in the state. . . .”

The Romney campaign expands on this theme by making the following points about the PPP poll:

· More people disapprove than approve of Obama in Ohio. 49% of respondents disapprove of the job Obama is doing, and only 48% approve. There are plenty enough people in Ohio who disapprove of Obama for Mitt Romney to persuade and win the state’s 18 electoral votes.

· Undecided voters overwhelmingly disapprove of Obama. Among those still undecided on the election, just 13% approve and 65% disapprove of Obama. Mitt Romney has a huge pool of undecided voters to talk to in October who have already concluded that Obama has done a poor job in office.

· This poll was a D+5 sample, closer to reality. As we’ve pointed out, many of the Ohio public polls show outrageous leads for Obama were caused by dramatic oversampling of Democrats. This survey is a bit more realistic. It’s amazing what happens when you stop oversampling Democrats – you find a race in Ohio that is tight-as-a-tick. As a reminder, in 2008 Democrats enjoyed a partisan turnout advantage of eight points (D+8). In 2004, Republicans had an advantage of five points (R+5). We believe this race will fall somewhere well inside those confines, even as some national media surveys give Democrats an advantage outside those bounds.

“Tight as a tick,” huh. When did Dan Rather join Team Romney?

The Romney campaign also touts its ground game in Ohio:

Mitt Romney’s campaign in Ohio is absolutely crushing its ground game metrics as part of the Republican Party’s Victory effort. Sometime this week the campaign will knock on its one millionth door and make its three millionth phone call since May. More doors have been knocked in Ohio than in any other swing state by the Romney-Ryan Victory effort, and public and private polling continues to show a similar number of Ohioans who say they’ve been personally contacted by the Romney and Obama campaigns. This is a significant achievement considering that Obama’s operators claim to have hundreds of offices and thousands of staffers in Ohio who’ve been prepping their effort for four years. The Romney-Victory effort began in May. This tells us that Obama’s ground game claims are largely made for press release fodder and not actual voter contact.

Last week, the Romney-Ryan Victory effort in Ohio knocked on 162,506 thousands doors. The week before it was 137,948, leaving the astonished Ohio Democrat Party Chairman exasperated in this Washington Post article. Sorry to ruin your Monday morning, Mr. Chairman. In fact, over 300-thousand Ohio doors were knocked in the last two weeks by thousands of Ohio Republican volunteers hungry for a change in leadership in the White House. These volunteers know that the Romney-Ryan road to victory in November runs through Ohio, and they are doing everything in their power to make that a reality.

According to the Romney campaign, the bottom line in Ohio is this: “The race in Ohio is close, undecided voters are extremely unhappy with Barack Obama, and Mitt Romney’s campaign has built a ground game that is at the very least matching Obama’s while surpassing all previous Republican efforts when it comes to knocking on doors and contacting voters face-to-face.”

That sounds right to me.

STEVE adds: Roger Beckett of the Ashbrook Center sent along these observations yesterday:

The Columbus Dispatch released a poll showing Obama up by 9% in Ohio. I find this unbelievable. In the Dispatch poll, 860 respondents (52.6%) voted for Obama and 669 respondents (40.9%) voted for McCain. So this poll samples 11.7% more Obama voters than McCain voters. But in 2008, Obama won Ohio by only 4.6%. This poll heavily oversamples Obama voters, and there is no way that this poll is reflective of likely voters in Ohio.

There is a simple explanation for why it is much easier for pollsters to reach Obama supporters in the Buckeye state this year: there are over a million Obama-Phones floating around Ohio.