CINCINNATI - With 50 days until Election Day, the president brought his message to Hamilton County on Monday. The weekend after the Republican National Convention Mitt Romney and his wife came to Hamilton County.
Political analysts say Ohio is the "Epi-Center of the Midwest" and one of the 12 swing states that will determine the outcome of the election, but what is it about Hamilton County? Why are the candidates and their wives visiting so often?
Hamilton County is one of the three swing counties to watch, according to the Wall Street Journal, so we started digging into the numbers and talking to local party reps and volunteers.
Hamilton County is the largest swing county in Ohio, making it critical. “Hamilton County will very well determine the outcome of the election in the state of Ohio, and Ohio is very likely to control who the next president is,” explained Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Tim Burke.
“This is the center of the political world. In a presidential election in Ohio this county in particular, we lost this county four years ago,” said Greg Hartmann, Co-Chair of the Romney Campaign in Hamilton County.
Political experts say the election will come down to a dozen swing states, Ohio being one of those-- and in those swing states are swing counties. Ohio has seven swing counties, with Hamilton County being the largest. You win the swing county, you win the swing state, and then you win the presidency.
“The top level advisors on his campaign know Hamilton county by precinct. I mean, Karl Rove would talk about Delhi, 4G,” said Hartmann.
So far, Mitt Romney has been to Ohio 19 times, three of those visits were to Hamilton County.
Chelsy Smith, chairwoman of Xavier College Republicans loves being in on the action.
“It's awesome because he is such a star right now and everybody loves him and they want to see him. So because we are a swing state because this is a very important county him coming here makes everybody more enthusiastic and engaged,” said Smith.
“Ohio is so important that we've got one or another of the four principals or their wives in Ohio, darn near every day right now,” said Burke.
Since the last election, the effort has been stepped up and it's much more concentrated.
In 2008 Obama had four Hamilton County offices, now they have seven.
Hamilton County Republican Chair Alex Triantafilou told us that McCain had one paid staffer and one office. Romney has 20 plus paid staffers and three offices. This after Republicans lost the county in 2008, the first time since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
“It shows you this is ground zero, for this campaign; Mitt Romney understands that not only does he need to win Ohio but he needs to win this county specifically,” said Hartmann.
You could look at it this way. If Hamilton County were an eight slice pizza, in 2004 President Bush, the Republican, would have taken five slices. Then in 2008, the tables turned in the Democrats' favor and President Obama took six slices of the Hamilton County pizza pie.
When it comes down to volunteers--- the Romney campaign never came up with a number, but the Obama campaign says their volunteers total hundreds in the Hamilton County, and they have more now than at this time in 2008.
Irvin Carney grew up in Alabama, a state that rarely has presidential candidate visits. When he moved downtown he wanted to get involved.
“The volunteers are in every neighborhood, in greater Cincinnati. Even some of the places that may not be democratic strongholds, Obama For America is going to have a presence. And I think that is a really big advantage to the president is that we are present in every area of the city and in Hamilton County,” said Carney.
Before heading out Carney says Obama volunteers go through a "persuasion" boot-camp.
“They arm us with the truth to go out and tell people, it's really good at getting information from people and getting them to donate,” said Carney.
We're 50 days out and you can bet both campaigns will increase their efforts and intensity to win over the all-important, Hamilton County voter.
“It always comes down to Hamilton County, and that old saying, so goes Ohio, so goes the nation. We're right in the thick of that,” said Smith.
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