Kasich began the week with a new ad on education—something that seemed incredibly off-message on a campaign that has said it is focused exclusively on jobs and on an issue that Democrats traditionally win. Kasich has not announced any concrete plan for education, which made the decision to do an ad on education even more bizarre. That, including with Kasich’s comments about scrapping Gov. Strickland’s evidence-based model, lead to a week of headlines across Ohio that Kasich’s education plan would result in higher property taxes across the State. Not exactly the kind of headlines the Kasich campaign was hoping for in the final week before early voting.
Kasich did get the endorsement of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, but that resulted in Ohio’s largest utility very noisily backing out of an organization one of its top executives sat on its Board in protest.
I’ve been told by multiple sources who have been incredibly reliable in the past that Franklin County GOP Chairman Doug Priesse—a close Kasich associate—and Mary Taylor have told people that their own internals show the race similar to what the Ohio Poll, Fox News, and Strickland’s internals. shows. It makes sense given that the Kasich campaign released a new ad that for the first time mentioned Strickland by name and attacked him as Strickland’s ads have becoming increasingly more positive and just better.
The Ohio Poll, conducted by the University of Cincinnati, is widely accepted by journalists and political consultants by both sides as the “gold standard” of Ohio polling. Nate Silver actually rates it FIFTH overall in all of his pollster rankings.
The Ohio Poll shows the Governor’s race as tight as Strickand’s internals. In fact, exactly where the Strickland campaign’s internals that they disclosed to the media to end the media reporting that this was somehow a double-digit race.
The Senate race, at least as the Ohio Poll shows it, looks doomed. The Dayton Daily News is the only outlet that put the entire poll online. The graphics to the left are from the Akron Beacon Journal. The only positive in Fisher’s poll numbers is that he leads with young voters—which are expected to be the least likely to turn out demographic.
Closing the gap with Independents
One of the interesting findings of the poll is that Strickland is in a dead heat among independents, with a statistically insignificant one-point lead. All prior polling has shown Kasich with a double-digit lead with independents, but with Strickland quickly closing the gap.
Cuyahoga County Corruption Probe is becoming a major problem statewide.
What has to be troubling for both campaigns is that the Ohio Poll actually shows that Northeast Ohio is a dead heat. Some people I’ve talked on background dismissed the Columbus Dispatch’s poll because it showed Kasich leading Strickland in the region. However, it’s getting harder and harder to avoid the reality that the Cuyahoga Democratic corruption scandal is creating a substantial dampener on support for Democrats up and down the ticket that has statewide implications.
Not even Republicans and people who support the Tea Party blame Strickland over the economy. Congressional incumbents should be concerned, however.
Among the other findings, only 5% of Ohio likely voters blame the Strickland Administration for the economic condition of the State. By far, the Bush Administration gets blamed by 25% with the Obama Administration and Congress getting 18% of the blame apiece. However, Independents blame Congress by a statistically insignificant lead over Bush, and overall the Obama Administration and Congress was blamed by slightly more likely voters for the economy than Wall Street. Only 9% of likely Republican voters blame Strickland for the economy in Ohio. More people chose the catch-all (Someone Else or Don’t Know) than blamed Strickland!
The enthusiasm gap
The poll shows a 21-point gap between the number of Republican voters who are extremely to very enthusiastic about the election compared to Democratic voters. That is larger than we saw in the Politico/Battleground poll. However, 65% of the likely Democratic vote is either extremely or very enthusiastic about the election. So it’s not like our voters aren’t motivated to vote. It’s just that they aren’t as excited about voting as Republicans are. I’m sure this has nothing to do with the fact that the media keeps telling people before a single vote has been cast what a great election this is going to be for the Republicans. Independents, it should be noted, as as enthused, or not enthused, as Democrats. This isn’t the Great Independent Revolt as portrayed. It’s mostly all from the far right wing of the Republican Party looking for electoral payback.
Kasich’s pledge to not increase taxes not very popular outside of his base.
As for Kasich’s promise to only reduce the State’s projected deficit without tax increases? It’s actually very unpopular. Only 37% support Kasich’s approach as opposed to 52% who’d rather see a combination of spending cuts and tax increases instead.