Likely Portman/Strickland Race Starts As Toss Up

| Tom Jensen

PPP’s new Ohio poll finds that Ted Strickland and Rob Portman are both overwhelming favorites in their primary elections next week, and headed for a tight general election battle in the Senate race. Strickland is getting 50% in the Democratic Senate primary to 16% for P.G. Sittenfeld, and 6% for Kelli Prather. Strickland is generally popular with Democratic voters (57/21) favorability, while Sittenfeld still hasn’t managed to make himself all that well known. 63% of voters have no opinion about him one way or the other. On the Republican side Portman is getting 60% to just 7% for challenger Don Eckhart. Republicans aren’t in love with Portman- only a 53/24 approval rating among primary voters- but he doesn’t have anything to worry about Tuesday.

The general election is tight, with Strickland getting 41% to Portman’s 40%. Portman and Strickland have very similar images with voters in the state. Portman’s approval comes in at 35/38, while Strickland’s favorability comes in at 35/39. Even after years of prominence for both in Ohio politics, there are a fair number of voters who don’t know what to think about them. It’s kind of beside the point, but Portman would lead Sittenfeld by 12 points at 42/30.

Democrats are looking pretty good for the general election for President in Ohio- as long as John Kasich doesn’t end up somehow snagging the nomination. Hillary Clinton leads Marco Rubio 44/41, and both Ted Cruz and Donald Trump 45/40- leads that are pretty well in line with how much Barack Obama won the state by in 2008 and 2012. Bernie Sanders does comparably well, leading Rubio 42/38, Trump 44/40, and Cruz 44/38. It’s a whole different ballgame with Kasich though. Unlike Rubio who’s become incredibly unpopular at home over the course of his Presidential bid, Kasich has remained very popular with a 54/36 approval spread. He leads Clinton 52/37 and Sanders 54/34 in head to heads.

Other notes from Ohio:

-Sherrod Brown is the state’s more popular Senator, in comparison to Portman. 43% of voters approve of the job he’s doing to 33% who disapprove.

-69% of voters in the state support increasing the minimum wage to at least $1o an hour, compared to just 20% who think it’s fine where it is and 9% who want to eliminate the minimum wage altogether. 89% of Democrats, 69% of independents, and even 47% of Republicans support an increase to at least $10.

-83% of voters in the state support background checks on all gun purchases, to only 11% who are opposed to them. That concept has massive bipartisan support, with 91% of Democrats, 79% of Republicans, and 78% of independents all in favor.

-There’s 66% support for the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, to only 29% of voters opposed to that. It has 88% support from Democrats, 63% from independents, and 44% from Republicans.

-Ohio provides another example of how the politics on the Affordable Care Act have changed. Opinion is evenly divided about it, with 41% of voters in favor of it and 41% opposed. In the past we found Obamacare to be very unpopular in swing states like Ohio, but both nationally and in key states we increasingly find that voters are pretty closely divided in their feelings about it.

-Democrats are a little more dramatic about the possibility of Donald Trump winning the Presidency than Republicans are about Hillary Clinton. 24% of voters overall- including 34% of Democrats- in Ohio say they would consider moving to another country if Trump is elected. By contrast only 16% of voters- including 23% of Republicans- say they would consider moving to another country if Clinton is elected. This actually has some real implications for Tuesday. The fear Democrats have of Trump could lead to them crossing over to vote for the popular Governor Kasich in the Republican primary- which could then increase the chances of Bernie Sanders being able to pull another surprisingly strong performance against Hillary Clinton.

-This may be the greatest measure of what tough times these are for the Cleveland Browns: voters in the state think that in a head to head match up Ohio State would beat the Browns on the gridiron 57/23. It’s patently ridiculous to think a college team could beat even so hapless an NFL team as the Browns, but that’s where we are. Browns fans are in near total agreement when it comes to the franchise’s biggest issue- only 12% want the team to keep Johnny Manziel, compared to 72% who think he should be cut loose. For all their travails Browns fans still outnumber Bengals fans in the state, 42/29. And for all the Bengals’ postseason difficulties their fans still have faith in Marvin Lewis- 51% think the team will eventually win a playoff game with him as coach to only 20% who think it will never happen.

-Indians fans outnumber Reds fans 44/32 in Ohio, and they’re a lot happier with their current leadership too. Terry Francona has a 50/9 approval rating with fans of the Tribe, while Bryan Price enters the season at just 22/18 approval with Reds partisans- he has a lot to prove this year to get in the good graces of his fan base.

-Finally notes on a few Ohio cultural icons. Voters in the state are not terribly sold on Skyline Chili- only 32% of voters have a favorable opinion of it, to 22% who see it negatively. And Cedar Point demolishes Kings Island 47/22 in the battle of the amusement parks.

Full results here

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