Jon Keeling’s inability to surprise anyone continues uninterrupted.  When I talked to Tim today about the Ohio Poll’s new numbers showing Ted Strickland ahead 49% to 44%, I predicted what Keeling would write in response.

And I nailed him.

Keeling engages in his usually hackery by taking stale polling data from other polling outfits and declaring that the Ohio Poll is now flawed when he had no such concerns back in January when the Ohio Poll showed Kasich ahead 51% to 45% among likely voters.  Keeling has criticized and dismissed other polls because they didn’t poll likely voters.  Now, he’s spinning to dismiss what has been considered the gold standard of Ohio polling for polling likely voters.

You cannot compare stale data from other polling outfits to critique a current one especially when the current one shows the same margin as all other polling outfits lately but Rasmussen.

The trend is clear.  After Strickland bottomed out in January and Kasich peaked, the race is returning to where it was a year ago.

Keeling can whine and cry about how this poll doesn’t factor in an ad by the RGA that virtually no Ohioans actually saw (but for the Internet, and I would have never seen it), but it doesn’t matter.  (In fact, doesn’t that point seem to concede that Kasich is vulnerable once people get to know him?)  Because the poll also doesn’t factor in the far more saturated ad labor and DGA ad buy either which probably would have given Strickland even a larger lead.  Keeling cannot nitpick simply because a polling outfit didn’t conduct it’s poll at the precise moment that Keeling thought was to his candidate’s optimal advertising strategy advantage.

Either Keeling is right and every poll that has come out since January can be ignored as flawed, or his spinning like a top for his old boss because he just cannot accept bad news.

Keeling can whistle past the graveyard all he wants, but there’s an easier explanation as to why this poll is nearly an 180-degree change from what the Ohio Poll showed in January, as the economy in Ohio has improved, so has the political climate for Strickland.

Keeling has tried to dismiss and discredit all polling since January, when Kasich was at his peak.  Now, he’s even tried to use data from polls he said were unreliable when they came out to discredit this poll.  It’s a sad display of spin fail.

There is one significant polling methodology change in this Ohio Poll versus all others, but it hardly renders today’s poll unreliable.  According to the University of Cincinnati’s Institute for Policy Research’s press release:

Beginning with this Ohio Poll, all Ohio Polls will include interviews with both landline telephone and cellular phone users.

But there’s one critical polling question Keeling usually loves to mention that he conveniently ignores in this single instance.  What’s Strickland’s job approval rating according to the Ohio Poll?

55% Approval; 35% Disapproval

That’s a seven-point jump in approval since October 2009.  Disapproval ratings haven’t changed much since April of last year.

These are not the kind of numbers a challenger decides to frame the race as a referendum on the incumbent.

Get into the cross-tabs and Kasich’s face will turn whiter than the walls of his YouTube room.

  • Strickland’s approval on his handling of the economy is back to where it was April of last year as well and up five points since October.
  • Among voters 65 or older, the most reliably voting bloc, Strickland leads Kasich by 11 points and has an approval rating of 60% to 33%.
  • Strickland leads in Southwestern Ohio, the heart of GOP turnout, by six points.  50% to 44%.
  • Among the 54% of Ohioans who neither support or oppose the Tea Party, Strickland leads Kasich by twenty-five points.  59% to 34%.  Kasich’s devotion to presenting himself as a Tea Party candidate is not a path to victory.  Period.
  • Over the course of the year, we’ve seen Independents go from favoring Kasich, to a draw, to now favoring Strickland.
  • Despite the presence of Mary Taylor on the ticket, Strickland-Brown leads by seven points with female voters.  Perhaps it’s Strickland’s stand on the issues to female voters or its the presence of Yvette McGee-Brown on the ticket that neutralizes Taylor’s presence on the GOP ticket.  But Kasich has a gender gap with female voters while in a draw with a statistically insignificant advantage for Strickland with male voters.
  • Strickland’s approval rating is going up while President’s Obama’s is going down (46%-49%).  The good news for the Kasich campaign is that if they could “nationalize” the race it might bring Strickland’s numbers down.  The bad news?  This trend shows that the Kasich campaign has its work cut out for them because it appears that the voters do not view this race through a national lens.

We’re still roughly five months until the election and the graph above shows just how much the race has changed already this year.