OH-Sen: Democrats Lead By 10-15 Points
by Jonathan Singer, Wed Feb 04, 2009 at 09:41:43 AM EST
Since Ohio Republican George Voinovich announced that he would not be seeking another term in the Senate, the assumption has been that the race to replace him would be quite close. Perhaps not, according to Quinnipiac polling.
In trial heats between the leading Democratic and Republican Senate candidates, [Democratic Lieutenant Governor Lee] Fisher defeats [former Bush administration official Rob] Portman 42 - 27 percent, with 29 percent undecided. Fisher tops [Republican State Auditor Mary] Taylor by almost an identical 41 - 27 percent margin. [Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer] Brunner prevails by smaller margins, 38 - 28 percent over Portman and 38 - 26 percent over Taylor.
"Ohio remains pretty blue these days, given Gov. Ted Strickland's high approval ratings in past polls and the fact that President Barack Obama carried the state easily, and it shows in the early Senate numbers," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "But Republicans should not be disheartened by these numbers. We are still in the Obama honeymoon period and both Fisher and Brunner are known almost twice as well statewide as Portman and Taylor.
The percentage of undecideds in all of these trial heats is very high, so these numbers should not read to suggest that the Democrats would have an easy walk to victory in Ohio next year. That said, it is nevertheless telling that the leading Democrats in this race lead by 10-15 points already at this early stage while the Republicans can't get out of the 20s.
There is some recent precedent for a similar Democratic victory in a Senate race in the state, most recently two cycles ago. But while Democrat Sherrod Brown's 12-point victory in 2006 over incumbent Republican Senator Mike DeWine was well within this range, that campaign didn't feel like a double-digit race until the very end, if then. The only recent race that comes to mind in which the party seeking the pick up led by a double-digit margin from day one through election day was the 2006 Pennsylvania Senate election, which Democrat Bob Casey won in a landslide -- and that's not the type of comparison that the Republicans are hoping for.