Republican Rob Portman still has narrow leads over his two chief Democratic opponents for the seat being vacated by GOP Senator George Voinovich in Ohio.
A new Rasmussen Reports survey of likely voters in Ohio finds the leading Republican Senate hopeful with four-point margins over both Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher and Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner. But there’s been little movement in the numbers from a month ago.
Portman now posts a 43 percent to 39 percent lead over Fisher. Five percent (5 percent) prefer some other candidate, given that match-up, and 13 percent are undecided. Last month, Portman led Fisher 44 percent to 37 percent.
Against Brunner, Portman leads 42 percent to 38 percent. Five percent (5 percent) again like another candidate, and 15 percent are undecided. In January, Portman was ahead of Brunner 43 percent to 40 percent.
In December, Portman was in a virtual tie with Fisher 38 percent to 36 percent and was ahead of Brunner 40 percent to 33 percent. In September, the candidates were neck-and-neck.
Forty-five percent (45 percent) of voters in Ohio think it is possible to balance the federal budget without raising taxes, but 36 percent disagree. Fifty-one percent (51 percent) favor an across-the-board tax cut for all Americans, but 32 percent are opposed. That’s a bit more supportive of tax cuts than the national average.
Fifty-four percent (54 percent) also think cutting taxes is a better way to create jobs than increasing government spending. Only 17 percent see increased spending as a better job-creator. Those figures are similar to the national average.
More optimistic than voters nationally, 50 percent in Ohio say the United States and its allies are winning the war on terror. Just 19 percent say the terrorists are winning.
Still, only 43 percent believe the United States is safer today than it was before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and nearly as many (39 percent) disagree.
When it comes to important national issues, 70 percent of Ohio voters trust the judgment of the American people more than that of the nation’s political leaders. Fifteen percent (15 percent) trust the judgment of the political leaders more.
Seventy-two percent (72 percent) believe the federal government has become a special interest group, and 70 percent think government and big business often work together to hurt consumers and investors.
In Ohio, as is typically the case around the country, the Republican candidate runs stronger among male voters while the Democrats carry female voters. In both match-ups, Portman wins voters not affiliated with either major party by 18 points.
The numbers in the Buckeye State suggest that none of the candidates has really fired voters’ enthusiasm yet. Fisher and Brunner, like many Democratic candidates nationwide, also appear to be suffering from voter unhappiness with the state of the economy and fallout from the Congressional health care debate.
Barack Obama carried Ohio, a key swing state in recent years, over John McCain by a 51 percent to 47 percent margin in November 2008, and 49 percent of Ohio voters approve of the job President Obama is doing.
Fifty-one percent (51 percent) disapprove of the president’s performance. But noticeably while 29 percent strongly approve of Obama’s performance, 41 percent strongly disapprove. This is roughly in line with the president’s job approval ratings in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll as the bounce he received from his state of the union speech appears to fade.
Forty percent (40 percent) of Ohio voters now rate their personal finances as good or excellent, while 19 percent say they are poor. But just 16 percent say their finances are getting better. Nearly half the state’s voters (48 percent) say their personal finances are getting worse.
Thirteen percent (13 percent) have a very favorable opinion of Portman, a former congressman who also served as the director of the Office of Management and Budget and the U.S. Trade Representative under President George W. Bush. Only five percent (5 percent) have a very unfavorable view of him, but one-in-three voters (32 percent) don’t know enough about Portman to venture even a soft favorable or unfavorable opinion.
Fisher is viewed very favorably by 11 percent and very unfavorably by 13 percent.
Brunner’s very favorables total 18 percent, and her very unfavorables are 14 percent.
At this point in a campaign, Rasmussen Reports considers the number of people with a strong opinion more significant than the total favorable/unfavorable numbers.
Both parties will pick their Senate nominees in May 4 primaries.
Democratic Senate incumbents who currently trail their challengers include Harry Reid in Nevada, Michael Bennet in Colorado, Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas and Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania. Democrats Barbara Boxer from California, Evan Bayh of Indiana and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin find themselves in more competitive races than usual.
Republicans lead open-seat Senate races in Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire and North Dakota.
In 2008, Rasmussen Reports projected nationally that Obama would defeat John McCain by a 52 percent to 46 percent margin. Obama won 53 percent to 46 percent. Four years earlier, Rasmussen Reports projected the national vote totals for both George W. Bush and John Kerry within half-a-percentage-point.
In Ohio, Rasmussen Reports Obama and McCain tied at 49 percent in a race Obama won 51 percent to 47 percent. In 2004, Rasmussen polling showed George W. Bush defeating John Kerry in Ohio by a 50 percent to 46 percent margin. Bush won 51 percent to 49 percent.
In the 2006 Ohio race for U.S. Senate, Rasmussen polling showed Sherrod Brown beating Mike DeWine by eleven points, 54 percent to 43 percent. Brown won by twelve, 56 percent to 44 percent. In the 2006 race for Governor, Rasmussen polling showed Ted Strickland leading Ken Blackwell by twenty-five points, 59 percent to 34 percent. Strickland won by twenty-three, 60 percent to 37 percent.
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