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John McCain edges ahead in Ohio; does Joe the Plumber get an assist?

October 21, 2008 |  9:25 am

At the least, the surprise spotlight John McCain put on "Joe the Plumber" may have helped the Republican presidential candidate in the working man's home state.

Last Tuesday, a poll by Rasmussen Reports showed Barack Obama ahead of McCain in the oh-so-important state of Ohio, 49% to 47%. In that particular survey, it was the first-ever Obama advantage.

Then, on Wednesday, McCain made Joe Wurzelbacher of Holland, Ohio, a nationally known figure by mentioning him again and again in his final debate with Obama as a short-handed way of arguing that the Democrat's tax policies were wrong-headed.

Today comes a new Rasmussen poll showing the two candidates' positions in Ohio have flip-flopped -- McCain leads Obama, 49% to 47%.

Here, though, is the survey's bottom line -- and the reason both campaigns spend so much time and energy on the Buckeye State:

It’s hard to classify Ohio as anything but a pure toss-up. For four straight weeks, the two candidates have been within two points of each other or closer. During that time, neither man has topped 49% support or fallen below 47%. If the four polls are averaged together, Obama and McCain are within a half-point of each other.

-- Don Frederick