by Jackie Kucinich, USA TODAY
BEDFORD HEIGHTS, OHIO — The polls may show him dropping in Ohio, but Mitt Romney’s Buckeye State supporters aren’t buying it.
Voters who attended stops along the Republican presidential nominee’s Ohio bus tour this week attributed the numbers to several things — oversampling of Democratic voters and media bias were among the most common reasons cited — and said it was time for the Romney campaign to vocally push back.
Both Romney and President Obama were in Ohio campaigning on Wednesday visiting towns that are less than 30 miles from each other.
But the day began with bad news for the Romney camp: A new poll from Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News released Wednesday shows Obama ahead by 10 points in the state, the latest of several polls showing him with a lead.
“Obama is trying to get out (the message), ‘Don’t bother voting, because it’s over with, I got it,” said Ted Wojtasik, 55, a tanker driver who attended Romney’s business roundtable here. “Romney needs to grow a set and open his mouth and go after this guy.”
Barb Ramsey, 52, a registered nurse from Westerville, who attended Romney’s rally in a high school gym there, said Romney needs to “come out strong” if his going to “push through the press.”
“The media is such a barrier, he’s got to come through,” she said. “I think the polls are screwed and skewed.”
George Erwin, 68 — a registered Democrat from Clinton, Ohio, who said he plans to vote for Romney — said the polls oversample urban areas.
“If you take the majority of the people who live in Cleveland and the majority of people who live in Columbus, you get a skewed idea of everybody in between,” said Erwin. “That doesn’t give you an accurate picture of how I’m going to vote because I live in the suburbs.”
Michelle Labbie, 20, an Ohio State student from Orlando, said she and her fellow college Republicans are working hard to close any gap through door knocking, absentee ballot drives and other grass-roots activity. “We’ve got to get out the vote,” she said.
The Romney campaign has dismissed the results of the public polls, saying it has been erratic and they are relying on their own internal polls to gauge the progress in the race.
Polling from prior years doesn’t give many clues as to whether Obama’s apparent lead is meaningful. During the same time period in 2008, Ohio polls ranged from giving McCain a slight advantage to showing Obama up by eight points, according to data compiled by Real Clear Politics. Obama won the state by five points. In 2004, every Ohio poll taken in late September showed President George W. Bush beating Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and he did in November.
So could all the polls be wrong?
Andy Kohut of the Pew Research Center said not since the famous 1948 race where all predictions said Republican Thomas Dewey would beat President Truman has a vast swath of polls been uniformly inaccurate.
Kohut said voters “look at things — as they should — from their own point of view not in a broad way,” which leads them to form conclusions that are partisan rather than based on data or research.
Still, voters like Mike Skrypak, 48, of Brecksville who works in retail, said he found Romney’s poll numbers hard to believe and wished pollsters would be more transparent about their methods.
“I would really like to see — not just hear, actually see — some validation behind those polling numbers,” he said.