If I were a campaign strategist, I’d be asking whether President Obama’s poor polling numbers, combined with Gov. Strickland’s tanking poll numbers, signal a strong GOP comeback in Ohio. First, let’s remember Gov. Strickland’s tanking poll numbers:
Stricklandâ€™s approval rating has plummeted by 11 points in the last two months and Ohioans now give him a thumbs down on the way he is performing his job, including that he has failed to keep his campaign promises, according to a poll released this morning by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
Next, let’s look at President Obama’s latest approval numbers in Ohio:
A new Quinnipiac poll shows President Obamaâ€™s approval rating has dropped 13 points over the last two months in Ohio, a key battleground state with plenty of critical Congressional contests in 2010.
Obama now only holds a 49 percent approval rating, with 44 percent of voters disapproving. Itâ€™s his lowest approval rating in any Quinnipiac statewide poll taken since Obamaâ€™s inauguration. In May, Obama held a 62 percent approval rating in the Buckeye state.
Meanwhile, a 48 percent plurality of Ohio voters disapprove of the way Obama is handling the economy, with 46 percent approving. Two-thirds of Ohio voters are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the state.
“The economy in Ohio is as bad as anywhere in America. These numbers indicate that for the first time voters have decided that President Barack Obama bears some responsibility for their problems,” said Quinnipiac pollster Peter Brown.
I’d say that Gov. Strickland is the first governor to feel the effects of President Obama’s flagging approval ratings. In fact, Strickland’s ratings drop almost mirrors Obama’s ratings drop.
I’m thinking that Ohio can lead a GOP revival for several reasons. Let’s go through them one-by-one, starting with this:
1. John Kasich vs. Gov. Strickland at the top of the ticket favors Republicans. Rep. Kasich is a charismatic personality with a long record of reform, job creation and fiscal responsibility. Gov. Strickland is a cookie cutter politician who’s defending himself during an economic downturn.
2. Rob Portman is the GOP candidate for U.S. Senate, where he’d replace George Voinovich. Portman is a proven fundraiser with a strong economic track record. He’ll face either Lee Fisher or Jennifer Brunner in Novermber, 2010. Here’s where the race sits right now:
Fisher leads Portman by four points, 37 to 33 percent. Brunner leads Portman by just one point, 35 to 34 percent. In May, Fisher held a double-digit lead over Portman, and Brunner led Portman by eight points.
Yet again, the Democrats’ leads have shrunk dramatically. That isn’t a good trend, especially with the economy continuing to underperform expectations.
3. Mike DeWine is running for Attorney General. Former Sen. DeWine is a proven fundraiser with statewide name recognition.
In other words, the top of the GOP ticket in Ohio is extremely talented. Each candidate has statewide name recognition and is well-financed, too.
Finally, there’s this to consider:
The changed environment in Ohio could have serious implications for Democratic members of Congress, many of whom benefited from Obamaâ€™s coattails in 2008. Republican Steve Stivers announced today that he is running in a rematch against Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Ohio), and cited the improved national environment for the GOP as a reason for his decision. Former GOP congressman Steve Chabot, who lost to Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Ohio) last year, is also making a comeback for hid old seat.
Republicans are also actively looking to recruit strong candidates against Reps. John Boccieri and Zack Space, and have attacked them for their votes on the cap-and-trade energy legislation.
The midterms will be won by the candidates who the voters judge as the most competent on the economy. If the election were held today, that’d give the GOP a distinct advantage.
Something else that’s aiding Republicans is the latest news that the Obama administration is admitting that their first stimulus bill failed and they might need another one to get the economy growing again. At some point, people will start questioning this administration’s and this congress’s credibility on diagnosing and fixing the economy. I don’t think that time is far off. In fact, I think the tipping point has already been reached in Ohio.
Technorati: Economy, Polling, Ted Strickland, President Obama, Quinnipiac, Democrats, John Kasich, Rob Portman, Mike DeWine, Reforms, Fiscal Restraint, Steve Chabot, Steve Stivers, Ohio, Election 2010
Cross-posted at California Conservative