TODAY | October 08, 2012
>>> ohio, where voters have picked the winners of the last 12 presidential races and one area of the state is getting a lot of attention from both the president and from mitt romney . nbc's capitol hill correspondent kelly o'donnell is in cincinnati. kelly , good morning.
>> reporter: good morning, willie . we know winning ohio is critical but the real fight is happening on smaller turf, places like this, home to 800,000 people who know they are among the most sought-after voters anywhere. now in parts of the state, it's really predictable, for obama or for romney, hamilton county could go either way and might decide it all. picking sides in cincinnati is usually a fight over who makes the city's best chili, piled high and smothered in cheese, but now it's about ohio 's biggest fall prize.
>> register to vote right here. update your voter registration .
>> reporter: winning southwest ohio 's hamilton county .
>> it is ground zero , right where we are.
>> it's a county that president bush won in '01 but barack obama won in '08.
>> reporter: the county has traditionally gone republican.
>> this is a place we plan to reclaim in 2012 .
>> that looks like --
>> reporter: a shot at victory.
>> what are the streets --
>> >> reporter: means countless steps and thousands of front doors.
>> hi. my name is shelby with organizing for america, president obama 's re-election team.
>> reporter: volunteers who will risk the dreaded hangup.
>> just wondering if you will be supporting mitt romney and paul ryan this november.
>> reporter: the democratic party is all about banking support by encouraging early voting . what sort of pressure do you feel as the county chair?
>> a lot.
>> reporter: democrats need local college students involved and a big repeat turnover from african-americans.
>> the support is here for the president, and i know that the republicans are worried about that.
>> reporter: republicans are relying on well-guarded and complex consumer data to find potential supporters, many who don't always vote, and get them to vote early, and their biggest ambition is winning back independents and republicans who picked obama last time. in 2008 , who did you vote for?
>> obama .
>> reporter: and this year?
>> reporter: valerie and robert herman voted obama in '08 but call themselves undecided now.
>> frankly i still don't really know what i'm going to do.
>> there are disappointments, disappointments about where he said he would be today and we're not there, and my general enthusiasm has waned for him.
>> reporter: many voters here say they are feeling the pressure that their votes could swing the state.
>> elections are always tense, but it just seems like more people are very distressed about the outcome of this one.
>> i feel so privileged i think to be a hamilton county voter and to have that spotlight hon what we're doing.
>> reporter: and local democrats tell me that their enthusiasm was slower to develop this year, but they think they have got it now. while republicans say they want to drive up as many votes as they can, not only to win the county but to offset some of the support the president has elsewhere in the state. the candidates are here, it seems, almost every day, willie , and voters are really under the gun to deliver one way or the other. willie had?
>> all right. kelly o'donnell for