Swing state campaign highlights: The scoop on early voting; The latest on political ads, campaign appearances and polls

As election day approaches, KHN's Sarah Barr samples news coverage each week from swing states around the country – how health policy developments are playing in this year's vote.

Highlights include the scoop on the start of early voting -

The Columbus Dispatch: Early Voting Starts Today, As Do The Rallies
Early in-person voting begins [today] in each of Ohio's 88 counties at 8 a.m. while the first of more than 922,000 absentee ballots will begin to be mailed today by county boards of elections. ... There's a lot at stake with early voting, particularly among Democrats seeking to pump up turnout to return Barack Obama to the White House amid the heated contest with Republican Mitt Romney for must-win Ohio. ... Early voters tend to vote Democratic (Ludlow, 10/2).

Charlotte Observer: GOP, Conservatives Put Greater Focus On Mail Absentee Ballots In North Carolina
Five weeks before Election Day, about 14,000 North Carolina voters already have cast absentee ballots – a total equal to President Barack Obama's margin of victory in 2008. The number is etched into the minds of conservatives who are placing a greater emphasis than ever this year on absentee voting by mail, suggesting it could make the difference in another tight election contest (Frank, 10/2).

The Detroit News: Both Parties Pushing For Absentee Votes
Unlike other states, Michigan doesn't have early voting, but already votes are being cast here from the comforts of home. About 20 percent of ballots are expected to be cast absentee. ... A recent Michigan Republican Party mailer includes an absentee ballot application already addressed to the local city clerk. It's a pitch for seniors with a picture of a bed: "Don't take Obamacare lying down" (Schultz, 10/1).

In Colorado, young voters may be swayed by the first presidential debate of the season, which will be held in Denver -

Denver Post: Young Coloradans Toggle Between Economy, Social Issues In Election
[F]irst-time voter Tyler Antikainen, a politically in-tune 19-year-old sophomore at Metropolitan State University of Denver ... believes Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's business background is an asset. On social issues -; particularly support of same-sex marriage -; he's in lock step with President Barack Obama. ... At college stops, the president touts his policies that affect young people -; such as health-care reform that allows them to stay on their parents' insurance plans until age 26 (Lee, 10/2).

Meanwhile, local news outlets offer the latest on political advertising, campaign appearances and polls -

Charlotte Observer: The Mitt And Barack Show: TV Blitz Hits Charlotte
A torrent of money is flooding Charlotte TV stations as President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney battle for the 6 percent of North Carolina voters deemed undecided in the presidential race. With the campaigns approaching the clubhouse turn, $7.6 million has been spent since August on presidential TV ads in Charlotte alone, or about $73 for every undecided voter. And despite the video assault ... there appears to be little or no effect on voter attitudes (Washburn, 10/1).

Des Moines Register: New TV Ad By U.S. Rep. Steve King Criticizes Obama' Health Care Plan
U.S. Rep. Steve King, a Kiron Republican, today released his fourth television advertisement, titled "Truth." A press release from King's campaign says the 30-second advertisement highlights the truth about Medicare – ObamaCare cuts it by $716 billion, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. King is seeking reelection in Iowa's 4th Congressional District against Democratic candidate Christie Vilsack (Petroski, 10/2).

The Associated Press/The Virginian-Pilot: Political Ads In Va. Hit Diminishing Returns
The bitter back-and-forth of political ads by candidates and allied super PACs has reached a point of diminishing returns with Virginia voters. Voters, political professionals and media experts say that with political attacks coming at them in the mail, the phone, television and radio, the Internet and even illegal text messages, many people have started shutting down and tuning it out (Lewis, 9/30).

Des Moines Register: In Dubuque, GOP Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan Courts Catholic Voters Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan's visit Monday night to a Catholic college in this historically Catholic city underscores the competition in this presidential race over a religious group whose political views cross party lines in key areas. ... The Obama administration's actions on setting mandates for insurance coverage of contraception upset the Catholic Church and associated institutions, and led religious leaders and Republicans to accuse Obama and Democrats of infringing on religious liberty (Noble, 10/1).

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: U.S. Congressional Candidates Have Spirited Exchange
Republicans running in two congressional races on the outskirts of Pittsburgh hammered Obama administration policies at a forum in Greensburg Thursday, while their Democratic opponents called for more bipartisanship in Washington, D.C. U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, and fellow Republican Keith Rothfus, who is challenging in the 12th District, repeatedly criticized Mr. Obama's health care legislation and regulatory policies affecting the coal industry. ... His Democratic opponent, U.S. Rep. Mark Critz of Johnstown, showed his conservative stripes as well, noting he ... would have voted against the full "Obamacare" bill (McNulty, 9/28).

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: McCaskill Internal Poll Shows Her Beating Akin By 9 Points
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., is up by 9 percentage points over Republican challenger Todd Akin, according to an internal pollster for her campaign. The results of pollsters Kiley & Company show the same overall lead found in a Post-Dispatch poll in August, shortly after Akin's campaign was rocked by his controversial suggestion that "legitimate rape" seldom causes pregnancy. Prior to that, Akin was widely thought to be leading in the race (McDermott, 10/1).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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