Polls show Clinton, Trump neck and neck in Ohio

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, right, shakes hands with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at the start of the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, right, shakes hands with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at the start of the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

BOARDMAN, Ohio (WYTV) – Ohio has always been one of the most important states in the presidential election, but new numbers show this year’s race might be the closest yet.

Most of the polls conducted in September showed Donald Trump with a five-point lead in Ohio, but forecasters have seen the numbers improving for Clinton in the week since the first debate. That looks to be putting her neck and neck for the state’s 18 electoral votes.

Mahoning County Republican Party Chair Mark Munroe noticed a peculiar absence in the last few weeks: no Hillary Clinton anywhere in Ohio.

“By all appearances, it sounds like they’re giving up in Ohio. There’s talk that Hillary hasn’t been here for almost a month,” he said.

It’s been 29 days since Clinton visited the state, but her campaign says they’re not giving up. The Democratic nominee will return to Ohio on Monday.

“We’re doing everything we can to win Ohio. That’s why we built a large ground game that’s going to continue to register voters and turn them out. We look forward to winning,” said Marlon Marshall, Clinton’s deputy campaign manager.

The latest numbers show a razor-thin race. One forecast that compiles polls is FiveThirtyEight.com, which shows Clinton and Trump as separated by just one-tenth of a percentage point, closer than any other state.

That’s why every handshake at East High School or the Canfield Fair makes a difference.

“We’re expecting a close race in Ohio, and we believe our ground operation is going to take us over the top and why we’re going to win,” Marshall said.

Munroe counters that by saying Trump maintains a strong presence in the area.

“In spite of the talk about the Clintons claiming to have a great ground game in Youngstown, the Ohio Republican Party and the Trump Campaign is one of the strongest state organizations right here in Ohio.”

Given how close the race is, it could come down to voters in the Mahoning Valley. A difference of one-tenth of a percentage point could separate Trump and Clinton by less than 5,000 votes.

The deadline to register to vote is October 11.