(CINCINNATI) -- Two years ago, disaffected voters here helped elect Barack Obama president and also elected Democrat Steve Driehaus to Congress -- sending Steve Chabot, the Republican who represented them for seven terms in the House, packing. Now, in a rematch that most political insiders have declared an all-but-certain defeat for the Democrat, Cincinnati-area voters seem poised to return their old congressman to Washington.
"The nature of this district makes it a tight race," Driehaus said, calling this an election that's "going to go down to the wire."
The widely-held conventional wisdom in Washington, D.C. is that the first congressional district of Ohio is a sure win, and a return to Congress, for Chabot. ABC News rates the race as being one that "Leans Republican."
What's changed in Ohio's first Congressional district since 2008?
"Well, two years ago, Barack Obama got a lot of people out to vote in this area who had never voted before, and I think that was the big difference," said Robert "Bo" Bemmes, the Republican mayor of Reading, a Cincinnati suburb in the district with a population of about 11,000. "With what's happened in the last two years, I don't think that enthusiasm will be maintained."
In representing a state that has an unemployment rate that exceeds the 9.6 percent national average, the incumbent Democrat has been hammered by his opponent for supporting the economic stimulus, health care reform and the Democrats' energy plan.
Driehaus said in this climate, some voters who embraced him two years ago are being turned off by what he called "intentional misinformation" about his record.
"It's a challenge this time," Driehaus admits. "Not in terms of mobilization of the base, but [sensing] where the swing is -- where the independent voters are, and what information they're listening to."
"Are they getting it from cable news? Are they getting it from radio? Are they getting it from the internet?" Driehaus asked.
In his ads, Chabot accuses Driehaus of siding with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the expense of his constituents.
"Instead of standing up for us, he rolled over for his party leaders," Chabot says in the ad that greets visitors to his website.
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