Today, Wentzel Strategies, a pollster that has a rather unproven track record in Ohio (although did predict that Gibbs was a formable opponent to Zach Space last year) shows a mixed bag for the ‘12 re-election prospects for Sherrod Brown.
In head-t0-head matchups against Lt. Governor Mary Taylor, State Treasurer Josh Mandel, and ‘06 GOP gubernatorial nominee/former Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, Brown is easily ahead by a thirteen to fifteen point margin, depending on the GOP opponent. Brown polls right at the magical 50% mark, while the GOP candidate polls in the mid thirties.
Wentzel further shows that in a three-way matchup, Ken Blackwell leads in the GOP primary by 33%, to Taylor’s 19%, and Mandel’s 15%. However, in a two-man race between Blackwell and Mandel, the race becomes a statistical dead heat. One thing going for Ken Blackwell is that among GOP primary voters (snicker) nearly twice as many believe he is the candidate most likely to beat Brown than Mandel. (lol.)
Wentzel claims though that Sherrod is incredibly vulnerable, though, with an approval rating of only 40% among likely voters and only 35% believing he deserves re-election. In my opinion, no credibly pollster can do a reliable likely voter model eighteen months before the general election. In fact, most polling outfits don’t even switch to a likely voter model for the general election until after the primary. In fact, when Wentzel did a poll in the 2010 gubernatorial race for Ohio Right to Life in January of that year, even then he only used a registered voter, and not a likely voter, model.
Wentzel doesn’t disclose the weighing of his sample under his likely voter model, but he historically has a tendency to have a decidedly conservative Republican bias in his statistical weighing beyond what the actual turnout results. And if other registered voter model polls are any indication, Wentzel’s poll today is a continuation of that exaggerated Republican/conservative bias.
The most recent Quinnipiac poll tags Sherrod Brown with a re-elect number at 45%, ten points higher than Wentzel suggests, and 43% approve of his job. Wentzel and Quinnipiac seem to agree on the number of voters who don’t believe Sherrod Brown deserves re-election right now.
What’s the takeaway? Even when you factor in some of Wentzel’s obvious sampling bias, it shows that the GOP is divided and less than enthused about the GOP Senate primary field right now. Blackwell, due to his high name recognition from being on the Statewide ballot more than another other potential GOP candidate, leads, but only a quarter of Republicans believe he’s the best candidate to defeat Sherrod Brown. Regardless, as Quinnipiac has also suggested, Sherrod still appears to be somewhat vulnerable.
But we’re eighteen months away from the election. The GOP field will be more clearer then than it is now, and things will obviously be different when the ‘12 Presidential election kicks into full gear.