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Reviewing the basics of The Ohio Poll in the Governor's Race

11:30 AM ET, 09/26/2010
As you all know by now, I like to follow the recommendation of the big name polling analysts and consider poll aggregates to determine where a race stands.

But for the fun of it, let's ignore that advice and focus solely on the Ohio Poll that was released last night.

As we mentioned yesterday, of all polls taken of the Ohio Governor's race in the past year and a half, the Ohio Poll has shown the largest amount of support for Ted Strickland. During that time, The Ohio Poll also joined Quinnipiac as the only poll to show Ted Strickland leading the race. The difference? Quinnipiac never had support for Strickland above 44%. The Ohio Poll was the outlier with two of their three polls in the past year and a half showing Strickland with 48 and 49% support.

But outliers aside, The Ohio Poll has earned its reputation as a top tier poll and must be respected.

So let's get to it.

Their most recent poll from the end of May had Ted Strickland ahead 49-44 on John Kasich.

Back then, Kasich wasn't well known and between the two campaigns we had only seen attack ads from Strickland.

Well, with the results from last night you can consider those results flipped.

John Kasich is now ahead 49-45 - A net turnaround of 9 points.

The 45% support for Strickland is particularly significant. Being below 50% for an incumbent is bad news. At 45%, even moreso.

Or as the brains behind The Ohio Poll puts it:
"Gov. Strickland would probably be pleased to be behind by only four percent after some of the polls that showed him much farther behind,'' Rademacher said. "But, the fact is, for an incumbent governor, it's a little bit late in the year to be under 50 percent support."
The fact is this - no poll since the May Ohio Poll has shown Strickland over 45%. He's flatlined. Or, in the case of The Ohio Poll, gotten worse.

To make matters worse for the Governor, we learn that Strickland's supporters are far more soft than Kasich's.
Rademacher pointed to another line in the poll that is not particularly good for Strickland - 55 percent of those who said they support him now say they could change their minds, while only 45 percent of Kasich's supporters said they might switches horses midstream.

"Kasich's support seems solid; Strickland's, a little more soft,'' Rademacher said.
That's very bad news for someone who desperately needs to change people's minds in a very short amount of time.

But there's even worse news for Ted Strickland. And it surrounds something that's been the story of the year so far in elections nationwide - enthusiasm.
Among Republicans, 86 percent said they are "extremely" or "very" interested in the campaign, while, along Democrats, the number drops to 65 percent.

"The interest seems to be on the Republican side,'' Rademacher said. "There's no question that the numbers show the potential for a big Republican year in Ohio."

A 21% enthusiasm gap? Are you kidding me?

That's even larger than what we're seeing in the national Gallup polls.

Being down four in a poll may seem nice if you're a Democrat, but it means jacksquat if you can't get Democrats to actually go and vote. And there's the rub. Strickland hasn't given Democrats, or anyone for that matter, a reason to motivate. He's relied on the status quo to get him re-elected. And in times as bad as they are now, that just doesn't fly.

What else does that enthusiasm gap show? That the obsessive Wall Street and Free Trade attacks haven't worked against Kasich. Despite all their efforts to depress Republicans about their candidate and tick off Democrats about their opponent, Republicans are shockingly enthusiastic to go vote while Democrats are down.

What else could be effecting the enthusiasm gap? The failure of Lee Fisher's candidacy. Without being able to spend anything on commercials and getting zero help from the DSCC, Democrats have resigned to losing Ohio's Senate seat to Rob Portman. And throwing up a white flag already on what should be a high profile Senate race hasn't, and won't invigorate the average Democratic voter.

Ultimately, this poll will show Kasich's lead in aggregate polling to have decreased. Do I wish the lead was larger? Of course!

But so what?

He's still leading. His support is far more solid than Strickland's. And voter enthusiasm greatly outweighs the opposition.

The funny part? This poll will actually give Democrats some hope. They'll cling to it until the next Ohio Poll comes out. All others will mean nothing. The bad news? They'll be clinging to a poll whose very administrator seems quite pessimistic that Strickland can improve his numbers. They'll be clinging to a poll that once again reinforces Strickland's inability to poll higher than 45%.

The Governor's support has flatlined. And so has his campaign.

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About Third Base Politics

Third Base Politics is an Ohio-centric conservative blog that focuses primarily on political and campaign analysis. 3BP has been featured multiple times on the National Review's The Corner and Campaign Spot, Hot Air, Rightosphere, and Real Clear Politics, among others. The author, Jon Keeling, has been recognized by the National Review's Jim Geraghty as an "Ohio-politics guru", and has previously worked in Ohio politics, in the halls of Congress, and as a political appointee in the George W. Bush Administration.
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