In Ohio, a Strickland loss to Republican John Kasich would have many ramifications beyond the state. Ohio will lose two House seats because of the 2010 census, and its governor will help oversee a redistricting process that may be fiercely partisan. Governors also can direct substantial political resources to the presidential contender of their choice.
Should Obama lose Ohio in 2012, it would make it all the more important for him to win other highly contested states such as Pennsylvania and Florida.
Strickland underlined the symbolic importance of Ohio, telling the Cleveland audience that the state is "a microcosm of America."
Illinois is the largest recipient of last-minute money for get-out-the-vote efforts from the Democratic National Committee, and Ohio is fourth. Of the nearly $2.7 million being transferred to state parties, $950,000 went to Illinois, $470,000 to Florida, $325,000 to Pennsylvania and $300,000 to Ohio.
The DNC aired a new ad featuring Obama that warns of record cuts in education and rollbacks in financial accountability if Republicans take control of Congress.
Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele dismissed concerns of government gridlock if GOP lawmakers refuse to compromise with Democrats on issues such as deficit spending and taxation.
"With the Republican majority in the House or Senate or, hopefully, both, we're not going to compromise on those things," Steele said.
In many races, large numbers of voters have made their choices. In Ohio, where Democrats could lose up to six House seats, more than 721,000 votes have been cast. California officials already had in hand almost 2.5 million ballots, and Florida officials had almost 1.7 million.
More than 13.5 million votes had been cast early, either at ballot boxes that opened early or by mail. Four years ago, during the last nonpresidential election, some 19 million people voted before Election Day.
Kaine and Barbour appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press." Palin was on "Fox News Sunday," while Steele was on CNN's "State of the Union."
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