PPP seemingly waited until Kasich finished his second State of the State address (more on that after my head clears from having to watch it) to release the remaining results of its most recent Ohio poll.

According to the latest Public Policy Poll, a Democratic pollster that is nonetheless well regarding in the industry as producing very reliable polling (Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight has pointed out that if anything PPP tends to overstate support for Republicans) Governor John Kasich’s approval rating is still a disaster with 33% approving and 53% disapproving.  In a rematch with Governor Strickland, Kasich also loses by twenty points: 56% to 36.  That’s not much better than PPP had it back in November right before Issue 2 went down the tubes (33%/57% on approval and 55%/37% in favor of Strickland in rematch.)

Now, I should point out that the fact that the rematch question seems to constantly have the same spread as Kasich’s approval rating suggests that Strickland doesn’t get any particular advantage in a rematch.  If PPP replaced Ted Strickland in the question with “Generic Democrat” or did a strict re-elect question on Kasich, I bet all three would be roughly the same.  However, Strickland enjoys the benefit of name recognition and has learned how to build a successful campaign operation.  In other words, I think his advantage in a rematch compared to other potential Democratic candidates are in fundraising and campaign infrastructure, not necessarily public opinion (until we start to see names tested, we won’t know for sure.)

Kasich barely gets a 58% approval rating with Republicans.  25% disapprove.  A candidate that loses nearly a quarter of his party’s voters to a Democrat in a head-to-head cannot win re-election when he only gets less than a third of cross-over vote in return.  Remember how in both the Obama and Brown poll the 30-45 year old voters seemed to be the worst, by far, age demographic for them and there was a huge gender gap?  They’re both present in Kasich’s numbers but vastly smaller than the Republican’s advantage against Brown and Obama.   In short, opposition to Kasich is deep and wide and does not appear to be lessening with time.

Only Speaker John Boehner is more unpopular in Ohio than John Kasich.  Boehner polls 28% to 54% in his approval rating among his fellow Ohioans.  This makes the two Johns the most unpopular duo far more unpopular, dare we say politically toxic than supporting President Obama in Ohio.  That’s not the “conventional wisdom” presented in traditional media.   Up and down the ballot, Republicans have a major problem in their legislative races: their candidates are inevitable tied to these incredibly unpopular politicians.  Sherrod Brown takes a slight hit maybe if voters start to spill their negativity of the President on Brown.  But Josh Mandel has the worst of both worlds: He can be tied to both (even though Boehner is in House.)

The biggest surprise of PPP’s poll is that it suggests that Rob Portman is unpopular, too, with a 26% approval rating to 32% disapproval rating.  Quinnipiac’s last poll in early January had Portman with a 39%/25% approval/disapproval rating.  One of this polls is off.   Both agree that Portman is largely unknown.  Quinnipiac showed 36% of Ohioans said they didn’t know enough about Portman to grade his job performance.  42% said the same in today’s PPP release.

As PPP put it:

42% of voters have no opinion about him, the highest figure we’ve found for any sitting Senator. Anyone who claims that Portman would be a great running mate for Mitt Romney and help him win Ohio probably deserves a special honor for banal punditry.

The national beltway punditry has this notion that Portman is a political rock star.  And maybe among national Republican circles, he is.  But to the voters in Ohio, they think he’s the former Carhardt for business executives male model who ran for the U.S. Senate.

Seriously, but for a major Republican tide in 2010 and an inept political campaign by Lee Fisher, and Rob Portman wouldn’t win in Ohio.  This isn’t a State that considers being George Bush’s trade and budget czars a good thing.  In fact, most Ohioans believe that Bush’s trade and budgetary policies were a disaster.  But to Washington, being “former Director of OBM” is impressive, so was being on the failed “supercommittee.”

Rob Portman is overrated.  Portman endorsed Romney in South Carolina.  Many people predicted it was a sign that Portman was in the VeepStakes.  Nobody pointed out that the endorsement had no positive effect for Romney.

The GOP brand in Ohio is battered at both the federal and state level.  I’d dare see as bad as it was in 2006 and 2008.  The only question is will things improve for the Republicans, or is another partisan tide about to sweep through Ohio come election day?

 

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