Michelle Obama rallies voters to back husband

CINCINNATI – First lady Michelle Obama rallied supporters to back her husband as early voting began yesterday in the key electoral swing state of Ohio where the Democrats hope to take advantage of a lead in opinion polls.

“Are we going to just sit back and watch everything we worked for and fought for just slip away?” she asked a boisterous crowd of 6,800 in downtown Cincinnati.

With President Barack Obama focused on Wednesday’s debate against Republican challenger Mitt Romney, the first lady led the Democrats’ charge in Ohio, directing supporters to march to a local election office and cast ballots 35 days before the main voting day of November 6.

“All of our hard work, all the progress that we made, it is all on the line this November,” she said. “Here in Ohio, it is already Election Day.”

Strategic move

Urging voters to cast their ballots early in person or through mailed-in absentee forms has become a major part of the Obama campaign’s strategy in Ohio and other swing states.

People who vote early tend to rally friends and relatives among groups that are less frequent voters such as the young, low-income people and ethnic minorities. Those groups are generally more likely to vote Democrat.

The Obama campaign is peppering less enthusiastic supporters with phone calls, home visits, and direct mail pleas.

In 2008, roughly 30 per cent of all ballots cast were early. Of those, nearly 60 percent favoured Obama.

The Obama campaign seeks to persuade at least half of likely supporters to cast early ballots in Ohio and elsewhere, a campaign official said.

Voters backing both campaigns streamed into polling locations on Tuesday across 88 counties and requested more than 920,000 absentee ballots, election officials said.

After months essentially tied with Romney in Ohio, Obama is now leading by roughly 5 percentage points in Ohio, according to aggregator RealClearPolitics.

Some 7.8 million Ohioans are registered to vote in the state, compared with 8.2 million at this point in 2008, according to an election official. (Reuters)

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