MADELEINE BRAND, host:

And let's go now to a person who makes a living figuring out how Ohioans are going to vote. He's Eric Rademacher, co-director of the University of Cincinnati's Ohio poll. And what does the race look like today in Ohio?

Mr. ERIC RADEMACHER (Co-Director, University of Cincinnati's Ohio Poll): Well, going into the debate phase of the campaign, the race in Ohio was very close with a slight edge to John McCain. But after a week of financial crisis that culminated in what appears to be an agreement and the fact that we've moved now into the debate phase of the campaign, I think it's safest for everyone looking at the race to really call this state a toss-up right now. I think a lot of new things have entered into the race since the latest polls were done. And I think that's suggestive that we have a very close race, but also a new race on our hands on Ohio.

BRAND: A new race, what do you mean by that?

Mr. RADEMACHER: Well, when you look at the way the campaign has rolled out so far, in the convention and post-convention phase, we saw a lot of voters who were still saying they were undecided or might change their mind how they were going to vote on Election Day. Now as we move into this debate phase, more and more voters are not only going to be watching, but they're also going to be firming up those vote decisions. And I would expect as we get into mid-October, we're going to have a much better idea just how close this race really is.

BRAND: How many undecideds are there in Ohio?

Mr. RADEMACHER: Well, it's about four, five, six percent. But we also asked questions about whether or not people would change their minds. You can add an additional about 20 percent of voters who are picking a candidate in the month of September, but are still saying they might change their mind how they're going to vote. When you add those two numbers together, you get almost to a quarter of the electorate in Ohio that could change its mind between now and Election Day.

BRAND: And the number one issue, as it is in many places in the country, the economy?

Mr. RADEMACHER: The economy is the number one issue. And one of the things that makes it very difficult for a candidate to campaign in Ohio is that when they come to Ohio to talk about the economy, they can't just talk about a single aspect. When you talk to folks in the northern part of the state, northeast Ohio which includes Cleveland, and northwest Ohio which includes Toledo, when you're talking about the economy there, oftentimes the discussion is about trade.

When you talk about the economy in southwest Ohio, which is the Cincinnati area, there's much less talk about trade, and more discussion about wages and the salaries that people are making. The southeast area of the state, which is also known in part because of the Appalachian history of that part of the state, has high unemployment. A number of counties in southeast Ohio have double-digit unemployment. Many people in that region are talking about and focused on unemployment, solely as their economic concern.

BRAND: And what about social issues? We heard in Celeste's piece a woman who is concerned about abortion. We know at least in southern Ohio that there are big concerns about social issues. How do those play out?

Mr. RADEMACHER: When we were looking at this race last fall and in the early spring, we were seeing a lot of issues, economic, social, foreign policy issues. However, once we've gotten into the fall election period here, the economy is overwhelming everything else.

BRAND: Eric Rademacher, co-director of the University of Cincinnati's Ohio poll. Thank you very much.

Mr. RADEMACHER: Thank you.

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