All tied in O-I-HO?

Sorry to pull out the O-I-H-O pic for the front page twice in one day, but … hey, does anyone really get tired of it?  It’s in a good cause, however, as a new poll from the Columbus Dispatch shows everything tied in Oiho Ohio with just over two months to go.  And when I say “everything tied,” brother, I mean everything:

The closest Dispatch Poll in modern history shows the races for president and U.S. Senate in a dead heat in battleground Ohio.

For the record, Republican Mitt Romney holds a “lead” of 0.22 percentage point over President Barack Obama. That’s a mere 2 votes out of more than 1,730 cast for president in the mail poll.

By comparison, Sen. Sherrod Brown has a landslide going over GOP state Treasurer Josh Mandel with a margin of 0.87 point. That’s a whopping 15-ballot bulge.

The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 2.1 percentage points, so the takeaway is that the presidential matchup is tied at 45 percent and the Senate struggle at 44 percent among likely voters.

A couple of notes on this poll.  One, there doesn’t appear to be any links to the raw data, so it’s impossible to look at the sample.  Two, the Dispatch doesn’t give much information on the internals, either; they mostly give some quotes from respondents and look at down-ticket races.  The topline results aren’t an outlier, though; the current RCP average for Ohio in the presidential race is Obama +2.0, 47.2/45.2.  For the Senate race, the difference is more substantial, as the RCP average has Brown up 4.5 over Mandel, although that mostly comes from a PPP poll that put Brown up ten points earlier in the month.

In both cases, though, the news is better for the challengers than the incumbents.  Both have had a full term to build support in Ohio (Obama four years, Brown six) in a state both won in their previous election.  Getting only 45% and 44% of the likely-voter respondents shows real weakness in their positions, and an opportunity for challengers to make a case for change.  This is corroborated by one of the few internals shared by the Dispatch that shows a majority (55%) who say that Obama performed worse than they expected in 2008 — including one in 7 Obama voters.  Overall, 62% believe the country is on the wrong track, a very bad number for high-level incumbents.

This isn’t a result that should have Team Romney high-fiving.  They will need to see Romney’s numbers start rising soon in Ohio in order to be sure that they are capitalizing on voter dissatisfaction with Obama.  Team Obama, however, should be very worried — and so should Sherrod Brown.