“We like where we stand in early voting,” he said.
Of 1.3 million votes cast so far, 30 percent were by registered Democrats and 24 percent by registered Republicans, the Associated Press reported.
Romney’s efforts in rural Ohio are also relying on a deep antipathy for Obama among voters in places such as Galion, a town of 9,000 people in Crawford County.
“There certainly is an excitement against Obama,” said George Dallas, the 66-year-old owner of Total Systems Integration, which installs computer technology in schools and businesses. “I would vote for anybody but Obama.”
Dallas said his business employs 12 people, down from 30 a few years ago.
“For us it has been disastrous the last four years,” he said. “People are unwilling to invest until they know what is going to happen. Most of my customers are deferring purchases until after the election.’’
The Republican Party in Richland County is trying to tap into that anti-Obama feeling. In several locations near town, billboards depict a hard hat next to the words: “President Obama, we built it, you broke it, we’ll fix it. You’re fired!”
Many locals say Romney can do better.
“He’ll get people back to work,” said Paul Cok, 76, who was having lunch at the Mansfield diner with his brother Earl, 70, both farmers from Celeryville, in north central Huron County.
Earl, who like Paul voted early this year for Romney, said their neighbors “don’t want Obama anymore.”
Although this area is not particularly fertile territory for Democrats, the Obama campaign is vowing not to cede any votes. Like they have done in other conservative pockets in tossup states, campaign officials have set up their own extensive operations in rural Ohio. Next door to the diner is the Richland County headquarters of Obama-Biden complete with its own phone banks and canvassers.
A waitress behind the counter, who asked not to be quoted, whispered over the largely Republican customers: “I’m voting for Obama. Look at what he had to work with. It was so screwed up.”