Welcome back to Ohio, Jon Keeling.  John Kasich is going to lose.

Yet again, we see two more pollsters who had shown Kasich’s best results suddenly acknowledging the race is tighter than a deer tick on a bloodhound. 

The polls show virtually the same result.

The poll by the Democratic polling outfit, Public Policy Polling, shows the race within a hair: Kasich 49%, Strickland 48%.  John Kasich has now found himself stuck under 50% while Strickland has suddenly closed the gap as Democrats woke up and suddenly realized: hey, there’s more of us than there are of them.  PPP attributes Strickland’s surge from their late August poll as being due to the Democratic base coming home to Strickland and getting engaged.  Strickland’s approval rating is barely above the 40%, but as PPP’s polling memo states, it’s not fatal to Strickland as Ohio voters have not warmed up to Kasich who has a favorability/unfavorability rating of 43%/42%.  (Thank you, Lehman Brothers.)

PPP is one of the few polls lately to actually show Kasich still having a double-digit advantage with Independents. 

“Ted Strickland’s chances of reelection are looking the best they have in months,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “At this point it’s just a question of Democratic turnout- if there is a massive enthusiasm gap in the state Kasich will win.

“But if Democrats manage to exceed turnout expectations Strickland could win.”

GOTV can stop the GOP in Ohio.  Volunteer today!

My general philosophy is that the Dispatch poll’s mail-in system is horribly inaccurate, and frankly, not only do I question their methodology, but the obvious bias in their questioning.

In fact, even today’s Dispatch mail-in poll admits that it has some serious sampling issues… all of which is biased in favor of Kasich.

The breakdown for the current survey is 42 percent Republican, 40 percent Democratic and 16 percent independent.

The poll also contains about 3 percent more male voters than female, and disproportionately represents older voters – although many pollsters say that’s a generally accurate reflection of the voting public this year.

I’d love the name of these pollsters.  Again, the idea that smallest voter partisan voter registration demographic will be the biggest one on election night—is hard for me to believe.  What’s interesting is that PPP, which had more Democrats in its sample than Republicans, showed a similar result.

Regardless, pull these “what would in any other election be written off as crazy” demographics into normal, but still advantageous GOP advantage, and Strickland would actually be ahead.

Both the Dispatch, the PPP, and the Ohio Poll have acknowledge this month that their previous models greatly overestimated GOP participation and underestimated Democratic participation (sound familiar?), so it has to be asked—who says their newer models aren’t still getting it wrong?

Another obvious problem with the Dispatch poll is on the so-called “enthusiasm” gap problem:

imageWow, look at those numbers.  Actually, don’t look at them.  Instead, look at the question: “Compared to previous elections, are you more enthusiastic than usual about voting in the 2010 general election, less enthusiastic, or about the same?”  Well, the problem with that wording is that the term “previous elections” is going to be perceived by respondents more likely to mean just the 2008 and 2006 elections, than every election they’ve every voted in.  It’s human nature to react to this experience by giving your most recent experience the most weight as the frame of reference to this election.

Considering that, is it really then surprising that Republicans are more excited in 2010 than they were in 2008 and 2006 in Ohio?  What is surprising is that Democrats are  excited as they were in those elections.  Also, notice something that is often missed in the enthusiasm gap story. 

The Dispatch poll has Strickland losing by eight points of the Independent vote, this is closer to what we’ve seen in most recent polling.  And while people love talking about GOP advantage with independents and focusing that Democrats aren’t more enthused this election, it’s almost always forgotten that Independents have the least amount of enthusiasm this election of anyone, and vastly less enthusiasm than they had in 2006 and 2008 during Democratic waves in Ohio.

In short, independents are less united behind the GOP in Ohio this cycle than they were with Democrats in 2006 and 2008, and even less likely to vote.  For this reason, the focus on Independent voters this cycle has been over blown unless the GOP does a better job of turning out Independent voters inclined to sit it out but generally leaning towards supporting the GOP this cycle.  Kasich, however, has spent the entire final weeks of the campaign pumping the base, not the middle where Independents live.

The Dispatch says the same thing as PPP—a better than expected Democratic turnout, and Strickland wins.  Which brings me to the Dispatch’s down ticket races.

For the first time, we have a public poll finally showing what my gut has been telling me all year: Richard Cordray is at 50% and beyond the margin of error and poised for re-election.

State Auditor candidate David Pepper is in a virtual tie with Yost.  Again, adjusting to a more realistic, but still stronger than lately GOP performance puts both Strickland and Pepper on top.  If this Dispatch’s mail-in poll is that proverbial blind squirrel that is finding the nut this time, Democrats will, at least, obtain a majority of the Apportionment Board… not a bad result for a supposed GOP “wave” election. 

If those two things happen, John Kasich’s political career is finished in Ohio.  If he couldn’t win in this heavily favorable environment and causes the GOP to lose the Apportionment Board (by selecting Mary Taylor who, almost everyone I talked to a year ago believed she’d cost to re-election regarding of Pepper’s fundraising advantages), he’s a pariah to the Ohio GOP.

If not, then I give up trying to figure out the Ohio GOP.  Because if a Democrat did that to us, he’d be politically dead to me.

Two more days to get four more years.  We can win this November.  GOTV and then VOTE!