Does Obama Have the Stronger Ground Game in Ohio?

Last week National Review reported some rather unsettling campaign numbers out of Ohio:

Obama has 120 campaign offices in the state, while Romney has 40. The Obama campaign has spent $52 million on advertising in Ohio, while the Romney campaign has spent $30 million (as of October 5). However, the Republican National Committee has spent $4.4 million to the DNC’s zero, and there have been $15.3 million in ads from right-leaning outside groups and super PACs against $11.6 million from left-leaning outside groups.

Looking at these raw numbers, it would appear that the Romney campaign is operating a lean Ohio operation in the face of a towering Obama opposition, but it’s not quite that simple.

On its face, the disparate number of campaign offices and dollars spent may seem troubling, but it’s not necessarily symptomatic of a floundering Romney campaign. First, let’s consider the campaign offices. A look at the 2008 map from the presidential campaign shows that the vast majority of the state's counties voted for Sen. John McCain that year.

In 2010, when Republicans swept both houses of the General Assembly, all statewide offices, and the open Senate seat, most counties in the state voted Republican, with large swaths of the state voting with a 20%+ GOP advantage.

These counties are solidly, historically in the Republican camp. If you compare these maps with the places Romney has campaign offices, you can see that he is targeting areas that Democrats won in 2008 and 2010, hoping to gain ground. There’s not necessarily a good reason to have a campaign office on every street corner in every red-voting county. That said, we can’t discount the fact that the winner of Ohio’s important 18 electoral votes will be decided by the popular vote and not by winning individual counties, so we won’t know until Election Day if Obama’s strategy to have more campaign offices than counties in Ohio will pay off.