McLean, VA (written by Jackie Kucinich/USA Today) -- A multi-day bus tour through Ohio by Republicans Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan this week further shows the state's significance in the presidential race but also comes as a new poll shows Ohio presents an uphill battle for the GOP ticket.
President Obama, who will also make stops in the Buckeye State this week, leads Romney 51%-46% among likely voters, according to a new poll by the Cincinnati Enquirer/Ohio Newspaper Organization.
The lead is within the poll's margin of error â?? showing the state remains a tossup a little more than a week before voters can begin heading to the polls. The poll corresponds with the Real Clear Politics average of recent surveys that have Obama leading Romney in Ohio by 48.8%-44.7%. (Obama won the state in 2008, 52%-46% over Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.)
Ohioans can begin early voting as of Oct. 2. Both campaigns and outside groups supporting each side have spent heavily in the state. So far, $122,485,400 has been spent in Ohio alone, according to an NBC News analysis. Obama and his supporters are outspending Romney and his allies $64,085,768 to $58,399,632, respectively, NBC News reported.
Democrats are also outspending Republicans for get-out-the-vote efforts and other party organization, records show.
In July, federal campaign-finance records show, the Republican National Committee gave $35,800 to the Ohio GOP, while the Democratic National Committee gave about $1.1 million to its Ohio counterpart. The RNC appeared to step up the effort in August, transferring $552,000, while Democrats transferred more than $2.3 million.
Such an advantage means the Democrats have more money to open field offices, run phone banks and use computerized records to identify voters and get them out to vote.
The poll shows Obama opening up a lead across all age groups, except those respondents 65 and over who favor Romney. As in several other swing states, Obama has a strong lead among women.
Ryan will kick off the bus tour in Lima, Ohio, on Monday and continue to Cincinnati on Tuesday. Romney will travel to the state Tuesday, starting with a stop in Dayton, then continuing up through the state Wednesday with rallies in Columbus, Cleveland and Toledo.
Obama will be in the northern part of the state Wednesday, making stops in the college towns of Bowling Green and Kent.
Both Romney and Obama will use their trip through the Buckeye State to emphasize their respective plans for the middle class.
The trip comes as the Romney campaign tries for the third time in as many weeks to get its message back on his plan for the economy and away from a series of gaffes and distractions that have plagued it for much of September.
The most recent misstep came Monday after Mother Jones magazine released a video of Romney saying 47% of the electorate was out of reach for his campaign because of their dependence on the government.
"There are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what ... who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it," Romney says on the video, which was taped with a hidden camera. "And so my job is not to worry about those people -- I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
After the video's release, Romney defended the comments, made during a closed-door fundraiser in May, saying they were "inelegant" but part of an important debate about the role of government.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker told Fox News Sunday that in the next six weeks, Romney has to "get off the heels" and "get out and charge forward."
"I think Americans want a fighter," Walker said. "He just needs more of an opportunity to get beyond some of these sidebar issues."
In an interview on CBS' 60 Minutes aired Sunday, Romney said that he wasn't concerned about the polls and that his campaign did not need an overhaul, which some conservatives have suggested in recent weeks.
"Well, actually, we're tied in the polls. We're all within the margin of error," he said, according to excerpts of the interview. "We bounce around -- week to week -- day to day. There are some days we're up. There are some days we're down."
Romney said his campaign "was doing a very good job."
"We've got a campaign which is tied with an incumbent president of the United States," he said.
Though nationally the race remains tied, Romney has begun to fall behind in several recent polls of swing states. Some polls this week showed him down 4 to 7 percentage points.
Romney also addressed his 47% comments during the interview.
"Not everything I say is elegant," he said. "And -- and I want to make it very clear -- I want to help 100% of the American people."