President Obama and his Republican challenger former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney are tied at 45% each in the crucial battleground state of Ohio, according to a new Time magazine poll.
However, the survey found what Time calls "two races underway in Ohio," with Romney and the president tied at 45% among voters who intend to go to the polls on November 5 and Obama leading his Republican challenger by 2 to 1 among the state's early voters (60% to 30%).
The average between these two metrics is what Time says gives Obama a current 5-point lead over Romney, 49% to 44%, with a margin of error of 3 percentage points.
The poll is a mixed bag for the two campaigns as the race has become increasingly tied less than two weeks to Election Day. For Obama, Time says the president seems to be riding "a wave of optimism" in Ohio as a majority of voters, 51%, think the country is on the right track (compared to 54% of voters nationwide who believe we're heading in the wrong direction).
Similarly, the Time survey says the gender gap is alive and well in Ohio where Obama is winning 56% of the female vote while Romney is supported by just 37% of women. Conversely, the Republican candidate is backed by a majority of men in Ohio (51%) while 42% support the president.
However, Romney has opened a big lead among crucial independent. Fifty-three percent of independent voters in Ohio support Romney while just 38% support Obama. In addition, Romney is ahead by 4 points, 50% to Obama's 46%, among those who believe he is the best equipped to handle the economy. Obama, on the other hand, leads Romney 50% to 44% on the question of which candidate would better represent the middle class.
That's why both campaigns are virtually parked in Ohio for the remaining of the race. It is likely that The Buckeye State will be the deciding factor on November 5. However, PolicyMic pundit John Giokaris says the Republican challenger can still win the presidency even if he loses Ohio (no Republican has gone to win the presidency without winning this state).
"There are a few non-Ohio scenarios that are entirely possible," says Giokaris. The pundit believes a Romney win in Pennsylvania, which Real Clear Politics put back in the "toss up" category would make up for Ohio's 18 electoral votes (Pennsylvania has 20 electoral votes).
Other potential paths for Romney, according to Giokaris, would be by winning New Hampshire, Iowa and Colorado (which are within 1 point), and Nevada (where Obama holds a larger but not insurmountable lead). Other possibility would be for Romney to win Wisconsin, home of Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, where Obama holds a "razor thin 2-point lead."