Lake County, outside Cleveland, is perhaps Ohio's best bellwether: No county in Ohio has more closely matched the statewide voting pattern since 1960. Of the state's 88 counties, Lake is one of only six "Obama-Bush" swing counties, meaning it voted for Obama after voting for George W. Bush four years earlier. A wealthy and less diverse county than the rest of the state, with whites at nearly 94 percent, a Romney win in Ohio is more likely if counties like Lake swing back to their previous voting patterns. While the region was part of the hardest-hit during the recession, it has recovered quickly. An improving local economy, with unemployment down 1.6 percentage points since Obama took office, to 6.2 percent, may bode well for the president's chances here. Yet in 2008, Obama eked out his win in Lake County by just 1,013 votes.
Left: Obama speaks with diners during a breakfast stop at Ann's Place in Akron on July 6, 2012.