Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Ohio Poll shows race tightening once again

State draws everybody - and their daughters

By Gregory Korte
Enquirer staff writer

Dick Cheney was in Price Hill Tuesday. John Kerry was in Dayton. The Bush daughters come to town today, and both sides have schedules packed with Ohio campaign trips.

A live broadcast from ABC News anchor Peter Jennings further validated Cincinnati and Ohio as ground zero of the presidential election.

The Bush twins, Barbara and Jenna, will be at the Millennium Hotel at 11:30 a.m. today with NASCAR drivers Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammonds. At 1:35 p.m., the Bush daughters will appear at Withrow Hall at Miami University.
Election 2004 page
With two weeks to go until Election Day, the campaign in Ohio is stepping up its intensity amid new poll numbers showing that the race is back to a statistical draw.

The Ohio Poll released Tuesday shows Kerry, the Democratic nominee, up by two points in Ohio, 48 percent to 46 percent.

That's well within the plus-or-minus 3.6 percentage-point margin of sampling error.

But it also shows that the race is back to where it was in mid-August, before the Republican National Convention buoyed President Bush's poll numbers and before the three debates contributed to a drop in those numbers.

"The numbers do look good for John Kerry," said Eric W. Rademacher of the University of Cincinnati's Institute for Policy Research, which conducted the poll.

Even more encouraging for Democrats is that undecided voters have historically broken for the challenger in a tight election.

The race was also tight in an ABC News poll taken Thursday through Sunday of 789 likely Ohio voters. The poll showed Kerry with 50 percent and Bush with 47. That margin of error was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

With the election so close, the campaign is beginning to transition to a get-out-the-vote effort.

Expect the campaigns to give up on undecided voters and focus on their bases inside Ohio, Rademacher said. Firing up the base is a traditional role of a vice president, and Cheney did that in a three-town bus tour through Ohio culminating in a stop at Price Hill Chili on Tuesday.

Returning to a message of life-or-death urgency that has opened him to criticism from Democrats, Cheney warned that terrorists were trying to smuggle "deadlier weapons than have ever been used against us" into American cities.

Roberto Peraza, a Cuban immigrant in Clermont County whose son died in the 2001 World Trade Center attacks, asked the vice president what people in Cincinnati could do to help fight terrorism.

"It's very important that George Bush be re-elected on Nov. 2," Cheney said.

Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Brendon Cull called Cheney's remarks the "desperate attacks of a stalling presidential campaign."

In the visit to Price Hill Chili, Cheney said it was the Democrats who had become "desperate," falsely predicting that Bush would privatize Social Security or reinstate the draft next January.

"When we get to the end of the election and our opponents are running behind, they start peddling this notion that Republicans are going to destroy Social Security," Cheney said. "It's not true. It's wrong. It's a distortion. I can think of some other words to use, too."


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