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Friday, October 15, 2010

University of Cincinnati's Latest Ohio Poll: Kasich's Lead Is Overwhelming IN SW Ohio

Kasich Behind In Central Ohio, Up in SW Ohio
CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Today's Ohio Poll shows Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland trailing GOP nominee John Kasich statewide, with 51% of likely voters picking Kasich. The poll puts Strickland at 43% statewide with less than three weeks to Election Day. But when the numbers are broken down by geographic region, Kasich is only winning big in one section of the state, the Cincinnati area. According to the University of Cincinnati pollsters, Kasich holds a gigantic 29-point edge in the Cincinnati area -- Strickland is at 33% and Kasich 62%.  Other than that, the contest appears tight across other chunks of Ohio.

SW Ohio traditionally has been a Republican bastion and if the poll numbers are accurate it could be the region whose votes give Ohio a Republican governor over the next four years.  There is another interesting geographic wrinkle in today's Ohio Poll -- Kasich trails Strickland by an ever so tiny margin in the Columbus (Central Ohio) region. Kasich served as a Congressman from the Columbus area, and he is a well known politician there.  Kasich was also a state senator. Central Ohio is Kasich's political base, yet Strickland leads there , 49% to 48%.  Strickland's lead is razor-thin and within the poll's margin of error.  Logically, Kasich ought  be blowing Strickland out in Central Ohio because that is his backyard. But the poll suggests that Ohioans who know Kasich best -- he served as an officeholder in Central Ohio for a long time in the 1980s and 1990s -- aren't thrilled about his comeback, nor are they supporting him in droves.

Here's the geographic breakdown as reported by the Ohio Poll, which has a 3.7% margin of error. (The poll says the geographic data could fall outside the margin):

Northeast Ohio -- Strickland 47%; Kasich 49%; Don't Know 4%.
Northwest Ohio -- Strickland 39%; Kasich 45%; Don't Know 12%; Other 4%.
Central Ohio -- Strickland 49%; Kasich 48%; Don't Know, 3%.
Southeast Ohio -- Strickland 47%; Kasich 45%; Don't Know 8%.
Southwest Ohio -- Strickland 33%; Kasich 62%; Don't Know 5%

Strickland, who is from Scioto County on the Ohio River in Southeast Ohio, holds a slight lead in what is traditionally known as the Appalachian portion of the state. But the pollsters cautioned that their sample of likely voters was not large enough to ensure the results are reliable for the region.  Strickland represented the area in Congress before his election as governor in 2006. Still, it should give some comfort to Dems that the poll suggests the governor holds a slight lead in his backyard and that he also holds a slight lead on Kasich's home turf in Central Ohio.

UPDATE: 1:03 pm -- Strickland campaign manager Aaron Pickrell says the Ohio Poll has a solid reputation, but takes issue with a few of its underlying assumptions today:

"In this poll - Governor Strickland and Congressman Kasich each get 86% of their respective party's vote and Governor Strickland is winning independent voters by 1%, yet Congressman Kasich has an 8% advantage overall.  This is based on a sample that is 49% Republican, 42% Democratic and 9% Independent.  The poll conducted in September had a sample of 45% Republican, 42% Democratic and 12% Independent.  We strongly dispute a 7% Republican advantage in the turnout of this election.  If you did an apples to apples comparison of the sample used in September and the percentage of the vote each candidate receives - it would be Kasich 48% to Strickland 46%.

"Yet, even those polling numbers belie what we are seeing in early voting. Despite the so-called "enthusiasm gap," Ohio Democrats are turning out in greater numbers than Republicans. The investments that we have made in recent years in the Ohio Democratic Party have resulted in the creation of one of the strongest state parties in the nation. While the Republicans have virtually no turnout operation, the Ohio Democratic Party has a truly statewide get-out-the-vote operation that is identifying and turning out our supporters weeks before the November 2nd election.

"No one pretends this is going to be an easy election - but today's Ohio Poll does not offer an accurate snapshot of the race.  Governor Strickland is ahead by a couple of points in this race and with the superior early vote and GOTV operation - there is no question he will be successful on Election Day."

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