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FixCam Week in Preview

It's a week without a primary (or caucus) vote -- what will we do?

Never fear political junkies. We're less than 24 hours from a Democratic debate at Cleveland State University. The debate will be the last get-together between Sens. Barack Obama (Ill.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) before the critical March 4 Ohio-Texas Two-Step -- and, given the stakes for Clinton, could be the last debate of the primary season if she comes up short in either Texas or Ohio.

The Fix (a lover of historic moments) will be in attendance for the debate and will spend a few days afterward in the Buckeye State. We'll be filing occasional dispatches from the debate and from the road.

It's no secret that Ohio is likely to (again) be the center of the political universe this November. No Republican has ever won the White House without carrying Ohio; it's hard to imagine the general election not coming down to the Buckeye State in nine months time given the expected similarities of this November's playing field to that of the 2004 contest.

Unlike in 2004, however, Democrats have reason to feel optimistic about their chances in the state. Democrats took back the governorship and beat a sitting Republican senator (Mike DeWine) in 2006. An estimated 563,000 Ohioans who backed Bush in 2004 turned around and backed Gov. Ted Strickland (D), according to the Associated Press; 442,000 Bush voters in 2004 went with Sherrod Brown (D) for the Senate.

Given the symbolic import of the state, winning Ohio would be a huge coup for Obama and would almost certainly end the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Polling suggests a win is in reach for the Illinois Senator; a recent Washington Post-ABC News survey put Clinton at 50 percent to 43 percent for Obama.

Clinton's edge come in the eastern part of the state. In northeast Ohio, which includes Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), Clinton leads Obama 51 percent to 39 percent while in central Ohio (Columbus) she hold a 52 percent to 42 percent margin.

In the northwest -- anchored by Toledo -- Obama had a statistically insignificant 50 percent to 48 percent lead; Clinton took 48 percent to 47 percent for Obama in southwest Ohio (Cincinnati).

Obama is spending the next three days in Ohio with a bus tour stopping in Cincinnati, Dayton, Cleveland and Columbus. Clinton will be in Lorain Tuesday morning and then at the Cleveland debate during the evening.

And we'll be there every step of the way. Anyone in the Fix community an Ohio native? The Fix and intrepid videographer Ed O'Keefe are looking for good eats in Cleveland and Columbus. Any help is much appreciated. Offer advice in the comments section or shoot me an email at chris DOT cillizza AT washingtonpost DOT com.

By Chris Cillizza  |  February 25, 2008; 9:36 AM ET
Categories:  FixCam  
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