A Florida-based investment firm run by a frequent Republican donor is the sole contributor to a group that is airing television ads comparing President Barack Obama’s leadership unfavorably to that of former Democratic presidents.

The commercials aired in two cities, Youngstown, Ohio and Johnstown, Pennsylvania, both of which could be critical to Obama’s re-election chances.

Four years ago, when Obama won Ohio by 5 percentage points, he took 62 percent of the vote in Mahoning County, which includes Youngstown. A poorer showing by the president because of depressed Democratic turnout could help Romney take the state in November.

“Ohio polls show it’s a jump ball, and they’re trying to keep the enthusiasm for President Obama down in the Youngstown market,” said Bill Binning, a Youngstown State University political scientist who headed the Mahoning County Republican Party in the 1980s. The Youngstown and Johnstown regions include many older white Catholics who have long voted Democratic, and the ads are “trying to bust up the old Democratic coalition,” Binning added.

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