Barack Obama continues to have the upper hand in Ohio, even if Mitt Romney puts one of the Buckeye State's leading politicians on his ticket.
Obama leads Romney 50-43. That 7 point margin is unchanged from late January when he was ahead by a 49-42 spread. Obama also led 50-41 when PPP polled the state in early November so this makes three polls in a row over the span of six months with him leading by 7-9 points. Obama certainly looks like the favorite in Ohio at this point.
Ohio voters don't love Obama. They're evenly split with 48% approving and 48% disapproving of him, although that is an improvement from the negative numbers he's posted during most of his time in office. Obama's lead in the state may be driven more by the fact that Ohioans just don't much care for Mitt Romney. 37% have a favorable opinion of him to 53% with a negative one. That includes a 33/59 spread with independents. Romney's performance in Ohio in the primary wasn't terribly impressive and his issues seem to be extending to the general election.
Rob Portman has received perhaps more attention as a potential running mate for Romney than anyone else over the last month but even with all of that publicity he remains a relatively obscure figure in the state. 36% of voters have no opinion on his job performance, the highest level of indifference we've found to any of the 87 sitting Senators we've polled on in their home states. Those who do have a take on Portman are closely divided with 31% approving of him to 33% who disapprove.
Portman would help Romney a little bit in Ohio. When you add him to the ticket Obama's lead over Romney drops from 50-43 to 49-44. He doesn't move any Democrats or independents in Romney's direction but he does help unify Republicans around their nominee, taking the spread with GOPers from 82/13 to 85/10.
Kasich and Boehner are both very unpopular. Kasich has a 38/49 approval spread (although it's worth noting that's up from 33/53 in February) and Boehner's is 34/50. I wouldn't underestimate the relevance of Kasich and Boehner's weakness in the state to Obama's current strength there. Ohio voted GOP in 2010 and it hasn't really liked the way that turned out- that will impact the willingness of voters to pick Republicans again this time around.
The GOP's struggles with women and young voters really show themselves in Ohio. Obama's up 55-36 with women and has a 62-30 advantage with those under 30. If you extend the definition of 'young' voters to those under 45 Obama still holds a massive advantage at 56-35. Romney's winning seniors 49-45 but he needs a much bigger lead than that to make up for his weakness with young people.
Ohio will get closer. Obama's winning 88% of the Democratic vote while Romney's at just 82% of the Republican vote, so Romney should have more space to grow over the next six months. But as it stands Obama's got a good amount of breathing room and looks to have a decent chance at replicating his 4 point Ohio victory margin from 2008.
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