CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Data buried deep in the University of Cincinnati's latest Ohio Poll could give pause to both Republicans and Democrats. The random sampling of 1,340 adults between May 16 and June 4 shows Protestants have turned against President Bush -- Ohio's Catholics rate Bush higher in the job approval department than Protestants. And Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland gets a lower approval score (55%) in Southeast Ohio, the section of the state he calls home and long represented in Congress. For some reason, rural Ohioans in Appalachia seem to be downshifting their opinions about the guy who comes from the hills in Scioto County.
Ohio's Protestant evangelicals were at the heart of Bush's support in 2000 and 2004, and in Ohio they were a force that carried carried W into the White House. But the new statewide poll shows 34% of Catholics approve of Bush's overall handling of the presidency compared to 31% of Protestants. On foreign affairs, 39% of Catholics give Bush high marks versus 29% of Protestants. On Iraq, it is a dead heat at 32%. On the economy, 27% of Protestants approve compared to 25% of Catholics. Religious preference didn't make much difference on the overall disapproval rate --it stood at 64% of Protestants and 65% of Catholics. So Bush is in the dumper with Protestant voters like himself, and there has been a split with the Republican brand which so depends on Protestant evangelical voters at the polls.
For the Democrats, Strickland's lowest job approval percentages are in Southeast and Central Ohio, the places that know him best. He's at 55% there compared to 61% statewide. The governor's highest approval number, 75% is in Northwest Ohio. And cracks have appeared in a key pillar of Strickland's political base -- Ohio's union members. Just 48% approve of his handling of the economy, while 46% disapprove.