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“It’s going to make me vote Democratic,” said Chuck Horning, a 47-year-old accountant and one of the earliest voters at a polling site in the Cincinnati suburb of Anderson Township, a heavily Republican area.

He said he was so disappointed that he voted only on local issues, not in the presidential primary.

“It is a painful process this year,” he said. “I don’t like the way the Republicans have gone after each other, and the Democrats aren’t any better.”

Ohioans are used to their state, with its geographic and economic diversity, being closely watched in elections. No Republican nominee has reached the White House without carrying the swing state. Obama carried the state in 2008, after the state went for George W. Bush in 2004.

Lying between Romney’s native Michigan and Santorum’s home state of Pennsylvania, Ohio appeared to be a toss-up in recent polls.

Polls have tracked voter volatility among Ohio Republicans, and late polls also indicated that significant numbers of likely Ohio primary voters said they might change their minds once they were casting their ballots.

Associated Press writers Ann Sanner in Westerville, Kantele Franko and Dan Sewell in Columbus, and Thomas J. Sheeran in Strongsville and North Royalton contributed to this report.