None of the top contenders for the U.S. Senate in Ohio are gaining ground at this point, with Republican Rob Portman still holding a modest lead.
The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in the state finds Portman leading Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher 44 percent to 39 percent. This is virtually identical to the lead Portman posted last month. Five percent (5 percent) prefer some other candidate, and 12 percent are undecided.
Portman holds a 43 percent to 37 percent lead over Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, and this, too, is little changed from the previous survey. Six percent (6 percent) opt for another candidate, with 15 percent more undecided.
Last September, the candidates were neck-and-neck. By December, Portman was in a virtual tie with Fisher 38 percent to 36 percent and was ahead of Brunner 40 percent to 33 percent. Since then, the three candidates have earned roughly the same numbers found again this month.
Fifty-nine percent (59 percent) of voters in the state say it would be better for the country if most congressional incumbents were defeated in November. Twenty-one percent (21 percent) say it would be better if most incumbents were reelected.
Just 33 percent think their own representative in Congress deserves to be reelected, but 39 percent don’t.
However, Ohio voters are almost evenly divided in their views of the Tea Party movement: 40 percent have a favorable opinion of the movement, while 37 percent view it unfavorably. Just 17 percent consider themselves a part of the Tea Party movement.
The Democratic hopefuls, like many in their party in other states, also are probably suffering from voter unhappiness with the economy and the national health care plan proposed by President Obama.
Forty-four percent (44 percent) favor the health care plan now working its way through Congress. Fifty-four percent (54 percent) oppose it. This is roughly comparable with feelings nationally about the plan. Twenty-seven percent (27 percent) strongly favor the plan, but 47 percent strongly oppose it.
Fifty-five percent (55 percent) say a better strategy for health care reform would be to pass smaller bills that address problems individually rather than a comprehensive bill like the one currently being considered. Thirty-four percent (34 percent) say a comprehensive bill is the better way to go.
When it comes to health care decisions, 50 percent of Ohio voters fear the federal government more than private health insurance companies. Thirty-nine percent (39 percent) fear the private insurers more.
Thirty-six percent (36 percent) in Ohio rate the president’s handling of health care as good or excellent, while 48 percent say he’s done a poor job.
Fifteen percent (15 percent) of voters in Ohio have a very favorable opinion of Portman, and 10 percent view him very unfavorably.
Fisher is seen very favorably by 15 percent and very unfavorably by 13 percent.
For Brunner, very favorables are 17 percent and very unfavorables 19 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.
Male voters prefer Portman by double-digit margins over both Democrats. Female voters give a slight edge to Fisher and Brunner.
Democrats give Fisher slightly stronger support than Brunner. Voters not affiliated with either major party favor Portman by more than 25 points.
The candidates are running to fill the seat being vacated by retiring Republican senator George Voinovich. Both parties will pick their nominees in May 4 primaries.
Portman, a former congressman, also served as the director of the Office of Management and Budget and the U.S. Trade Representative under President George W. Bush, but it’s unclear from the findings thus far whether his years in the second Bush administration will be a political liability.
Forty-five percent (45 percent) of Ohio voters expect the economy to be stronger a year from now, while only 32 percent think it will be weaker. Right now, however, just 33 percent believe it is possible for anyone who wants to work to find a job, and 48 percent disagree.
Obama carried Ohio 51 percent to 47 percentover John McCain in 2008. Forty-seven percent (47 percent) of voters in the state now approve of the job Obama is doing as president, and 52 percent disapprove. This also marks little change from a month ago. Twenty-nine percent (29 percent) strongly approve of president’s job performance. Forty-two percent (42 percent) strongly disapprove. This is roughly comparable to Obama’s job approval ratings nationally in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll.
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.