- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 26, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A battle of the ground games will mark the final days before the election in swing state Ohio, where groups on the political right and left are making all-out efforts to get voters to the polls.

Turnout is expected to be critical in the contest between Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican rival Donald Trump, who polls show are locked in a tight race for the state’s 18 electoral votes. Ohio has roughly 7.5 million registered voters. Turnout in the past three presidential elections has been around 70 percent.

A coalition of progressive groups announced Wednesday that it has put together a massive, coordinated get-out-the-vote effort that is unprecedented in its organization and scope.

More than a dozen participating groups, including the AFL-CIO labor umbrella, American Federation of Teachers, NextGen Climate and Planned Parenthood Votes, plan to mobilize the former “Obama coalition” on behalf of Clinton. That means phone calls and door knocks and follow-ups to outreach that’s taken place on more than 50 Ohio college campuses.

Antonia Webb, state director of For Ohio’s Future, which helped organize the effort, said her group has already knocked on 1.3 million doors, with another 700,000 homes planned before Nov. 8.

She said contacts focused on voters aligned with the coalitions’ positions on pay equity, college affordability, abortion rights and criminal justice reform. After engaging on the issues, volunteers gave “an extra push” urging votes for Clinton and Democratic Senate candidate Ted Strickland.

Strickland, a former Ohio governor, seeks to unseat Republican incumbent Rob Portman.

Webb said the “Obama coalition” includes base voters who supported President Barack Obama in one or both of his election campaigns, drop-off voters and first-time voters in Ohio’s 22 most populous counties, including millennial voters both on and off campuses.

Young voters will be urged to vote through peer-to-peer texting networks, digital ads and a host of “fun events” planned on Election Day at 16 campuses across the state.

On the conservative side is Americans for Prosperity, the well-funded advocacy powerhouse backed by the billionaire Koch brothers.

Americans for Prosperity-Ohio told The Associated Press it will launch a huge grassroots effort in the state Thursday, urging Ohioans to “fulfill their civic duty and vote.”

The group said the effort is separate from its express advocacy in the Senate race, where it spent more than $8 million on anti-Strickland ads.

That effort included nearly 2 million voter contacts, a combination of nearly 1.9 million phone calls and 131,000 door knocks. Americans for Prosperity reports having more than 2.8 million people associated with it across the U.S.

“In the face of more economic uncertainty than our nation has faced in decades, there has never been a more important time to go out and make your vote count,” said AFP-Ohio state director Micah Derry. “We are encouraging citizens to make their voice heard, because the leaders we elect to office have a very real impact on our lives.”

The progressive effort includes similarly large groups, including Working America, which has 1 million Ohio members, America Votes, the Latino Victory Project, ProgressOhio and Innovation Ohio.

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