The polling in Ohio has ramifications far beyond the next seven weeks and the midterm cycle. Barack Obama won Ohio in 2008, the first Democrat to do so in decades, just two years after a scandal involving the previous Republican Governor had allowed Democrats to take control. Two years after that historic result, Democrats are stumbling badly as Ohio prepares to return to its Republican roots, according to Survey USA:
In an election for Ohio Governor today, 09/14/10, former 12th District Republican Congressman John Kasich defeats incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland 52% to 40% to retake the Ohio statehouse, according to this SurveyUSA poll conducted exclusively for WCMH-TV Columbus.
Kasich has a narrow advantage in Columbus, Cleveland and southeastern Ohio, a material advantage in Toledo, Dayton, and Cincinnati. Those with a favorable opinion of the Tea Party movement vote 17:1 Republican. Whites back Kasich 3:2; blacks back Strickland 5:2. 1 in 10 Republicans cross over to vote Democratic; 18% of Democrats cross over to vote Republican. Independents break 5:3 Republican. Gun owners break 2:1 Republican. Strickland, elected in 2006, is seeking a 2nd term.
In the race for Ohio’s open US Senate seat, Republican Rob Portman today edges Democrat Lee Fisher 49% to 40%. Among men, Portman leads by 22 points; among women, Fisher leads by 3 — a 25 point gender gap. Among whites, Portman leads 5:4; among blacks, Fisher leads 3:1. Twice as many Democrats cross party lines as do Republicans; Independents split. Portman, a former US Trade Representative and former federal budget director, is significantly ahead in the Cincinnati, Toledo, and Dayton areas; voters elsewhere split. Incumbent Republican George Voinovich is not seeking a 3rd term.
Kasich leads in every region of Ohio, including Cincinnati (60/29), Columbus (50/43), and Cleveland (49/43). Portman trails slightly in Cleveland (42/47) and in southeast Ohio (43/47), but leads everywhere else. Former Senator Mike DeWine also leads in the other statewide race against incumbent Attorney General Richard Cordray by seven points, pointing to a clean sweep in November.
That has implications down ballot as well. Several Ohio Democrats in the House are already fighting to keep their seats in a hostile environment, including Steve Dreihaus, Mary Jo Kilroy, and Betty Sutton. A landslide at the top of the ticket will almost certainly mean a wipeout in the House races, even if they had not already been in trouble.
But the wide polling advantage for Republicans shows that Democrats have probably lost Ohio in 2012. That will be a problem for Barack Obama, as his victory in 2008 came from winning battleground states like Ohio. Polling results out of neighboring Pennsylvania indicate that Obama may have trouble holding onto wins in states Democrats normally win, too. If enough of these states (Wisconsin being another) start turning red, expect to hear noises about a primary challenge to Obama in 2012 in a last-ditch effort to keep the White House — and look for experienced Rust Belter Evan Bayh to get pleas for a rescue.