Poll: Obama Pulls Away in Ohio, Puts Florida Back in Play

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Record crowds show up for a Romney rally in West Chester, Ohio yesterday.

Ask any pundit — or either of the campaigns, really — which swing state is most likely to decide the election in four days and they'll all say Ohio. As this snazzy new Times gadget shows, an Ohio win for Obama leaves the president with 244 paths to victory but only 11 for Romney (with one possible 269-269 electoral college standoff scenario). But if Romney wins the state he'll have 65 paths to victory — though Obama still has quite a few more options, with 187 ways left to win. However, the more likely of the two is an Obama win, at least according to a new poll yesterday from NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist, which has the president beating Romney among likely voters by six points, the largest margin in quite a while. In fact, Obama has led his challenger in all but one of the past 12 Ohio polls, with Rasmussen as a tie.

Still, the Romney camp isn't giving up Ohio without a fight, it's that important. Yesterday, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan were in West Chester, Ohio for what may be their largest rally ever in — campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul tweeted the local fire chief's estimate that 30,000 were in attendance. 

First, Rudy Giuliani was trotted out to blast Obama for his "incompetence" over the attack in Benghazi and to remind the GOP faithful that Obama "told us he would resign if he did this poorly." (Also on hand: Senator Marco Rubio, House Speaker John Boehner, and Kid Rock.) Later, Ryan paid obeisance to all-important Ohioans, confirming that "you're the lynchpin, you're the battleground of battlegrounds."

Romney meanwhile made his closing argument of sorts, full of veiled catastrophes but also a dollop of hope: "We're almost home. One final push will get us there." He also cleverly played off a questionable line Obama delivered earlier in the day, also while stumping in Ohio — "Don't boo, vote. Vote. Voting is the best revenge." — telling the massive, cheering crowd: "He asked his supporters to vote for revenge – for revenge. Instead I ask the American people to vote for love of country."

But it's not all about Ohio. There are by most counts anywhere from nine to eleven to possibly even more toss-up states in the mix right now. One of late that had been slotted into the Romney column is Florida. But that same NBC News/WSJ/Marist poll actually finds President Obama narrowly edging out Romney by two points. While two other polls this past week gave Obama sliver-thin margins, a new Miami Herald poll put Romney six points ahead. As the old saying goes, it's too close to call.