Ohio Senate Race a Toss Up

| Tom Jensen

PPP’s newest Ohio poll finds a toss up in the race for Senate- Rob Portman is ahead of Ted Strickland by an inconsequential 2 point margin at 43/41, with plenty of voters still undecided.

The closeness of the race is a reflection of Portman being pretty undefined to voters even after more than four years in the Senate. 35% approve of the job he’s doing, 35% disapprove, and 30% don’t have an opinion either way. There are actually more voters with an opinion about Strickland- 77%- even with his having been out of office for a while now- than Portman. Voters are pretty evenly divided in their attitudes toward Strickland with 39% rating him favorably and 38% unfavorably. This is pretty clearly shaping up as a contest between two candidates who voters have mixed feelings about.

Strickland leads Portman by 10 points with independents at 41/31. The reason that Portman still has the small overall advantage is that 15% of Democrats say right now that they’re crossing over to vote for Portman, while only 9% of Republicans say they’ll go across party lines to support Strickland. This is the second time we’ve polled this race this year and we’ve found a tie and now this 2 point advantage for Portman- it’s shaping up to be a very competitive contest.

The Democratic primary is not shaping up as much of a contest. Strickland leads P.G. Sittenfeld by 52 points, getting 65% to his challenger’s 13%. Strickland is over 60% with liberals, moderates, men, women, whites, and voters within every age group. His ‘weakest’ performance is with African Americans, but even there he gets 58% of the vote. Sittenfeld starts out 18 points behind Portman in a hypothetical match up, 46/28.

We also tested to see if Portman would be in any danger against a well known primary challenger but the answer appears to be n0- he would lead former Secretary of State Ken Blackwell 57/24 in a hypothetical contest. Portman leads Blackwell by 47 with moderates and 40 with ‘somewhat conservative’ voters, but perhaps most importantly he has a solid 62/23 approval rating with ‘very conservative’ voters and is up 50/35 on Blackwell with that group too. None of those figures portend much vulnerability from the right. That’s just as well for Republicans- Blackwell would trail Strickland by 10 points in a hypothetical contest at 46/36.

Sherrod Brown is Ohio’s more popular Senator, coming in with an approval rating 8 points higher than Portman’s at 43%, with 36% of voters disapproving of him.

Full results here

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