OHIO - Bad Weather & Big Turnout
If Ohioans weren't too turned off by the negative ads and nasty allegations in this fight for the Democratic presidential nomination between the Clinton machine and the Obama movement, then the March Madness winter weather certainly wasn't going to dampen the biggest turnout in recent memory for the Buckeye state primary.
Due to bad weather and some problems at polling spots, 15 polling locations stayed open until 9 p.m. in this all-important delegate rich state. No matter who wins here, the voters are "excited the presidential campaign" is spotlighting their state.
"We are having terrible weather, raining and only 1 degree above freezing, just very cold when we went to vote this morning," said Heidi Munc.
Munc's 5-year old son, Xander walked hand-in-hand with his mother into the voting booth, held his hand over hers and touched the screen to vote for Barack Obama.
"It was the first time my son voted," said Munc.
One more critical vote for Obama but Clinton is expected to win this state.
"Last summer, I really thought I'd be supporting Hillary but after I heard Obama's victory speech in Iowa and saw all the diverse people supporting him, I started switching. I still think Hillary would be good but I'm definitely supporting Obama now," said Munc.
Senator Obama, the insurgent candidate in this hotly contested race was lagging behind Senator Clinton by double digits only two weeks ago in Ohio.
Obama came within a few points of Clinton - and in some polls nearly tied - but in recent days, his poll numbers began to slide, much because of the new Clinton strategy to "throw the kitchen sink" at Obama with negative attack ads and verbal snipes by Clinton and her surrogates.
"Hillary seems to be getting more and more desperate and playing dirtier politics than Barack. Her ads are harsher. He seems like a more straight talking and honest man. I admire how he worked as a community organizer in Chicago," said Jason Mowery, a 31 year old interactive graphic designer in Columbus, who attended an Obama campaign event last weekend with Munc.
Exit polls showed that Ohioans weren't happy with the recent negativity in the Democratic campaign.
Most voters across the country agree and yet, the indisputable fact is that negative ads are effective. They are meant to diminish and destroy an opponent and many senior leaders in the party are worried that if this campaign of '1,000 cuts' continues too much longer, it will hurt their party's chances of winning the White House in the fall.
The Obama campaign has brought in new and younger voters to the party, especially capturing Independents and Republicans.
"What I find surprising is not that most of my friends are supporting Obama but three hardcore Republican friends of mine are supporting him [Obama]. My dad, a lifelong conservative Republican told me that he wouldn't vote for John McCain if he is the nominee and that he'd vote for Barack instead. But if Hillary is the nominee, he'll sit out this election and not vote for anyone," said Munc.
Munc was one of 6000 who attended the Obama rally at Ohio University last week and then over the weekend, attended another Obama town hall meeting in nearby Westerville.
"My husband didn't want to go to the second event, a town hall meeting with about 1800 in the main room and another 700 in the overflow room. It was the second time in a week that I'd been to an Obama rally and my husband started teasing me that I had a crush on him," laughed Munc.
Munc isn't alone.
"A lot of my female friends have a crush on Barack. I haven't thought about it. He's not unattractive. He's better to look at than most any other candidate," laughed Mowery.
Mowery was just leaving the Kroger's grocery store after buying some wine "to drink with his fiancé while they were planning on watching the election results tonight," when we caught up with him.
"Can you wait until I run in the rain to the car?" he asked.
Mowery said he had already made up his mind to vote for Obama before he heard him speak last weekend in Ohio.
"I got to shake his hand," said Mowery.
"I think Clinton and Obama are about the same on all the issues, but he's extremely charismatic and he really does give me that feeling that this country can do better and be something better. He definitely has inspired me. What a better message to send then world than that the United States has a president that is a black man whose father was a Muslim. I'd love to see him win."
Mowery supported Dennis Kucinich during the last cycle and Munc worked for Senator Kerry in the general election. Both expect to work for Obama if he is the nominee in the fall.
No matter who wins this state, Ohioans are finally weighing in and gaining the attention their state normally only receives during a general election and according to the exit polls, Ohio is going to move into the Blue column come November.