In today's Columbus Dispatch, their first poll for the general election gubernatorial matchup shows Congressman Ted Strickland with a twenty-point lead over Sec. of State Ken Blackwell.
Taken into consideration other polls, this recent polling data would suggest that Congressman Strickland continues to pull away from Blackwell as the election approaches Election Day.
The analysis in the linked article seems spot-on except for one point:
"A personal appeal from Bush — already coming to Ohio for an Aug. 2 Blackwell fundraiser near Cleveland — could push many of the president’s supporters into Blackwell’s camp."This quote seems to ignore the very results of the poll. One of Blackwell's biggest problems is that he is getting a cold reception from Republican voters. The poll shows only 61% of self-identified Republicans plan on voting for Blackwell in the fall, and only 53% of those who voted for President Bush in 2004 plan on voting for Blackwell this year (Strickland's numbers 81% and 78% among self-identified Democrats and Kerry voters, respectively.) So Blackwell has problems with his base, and I don't think that the President is the solution.
According to the last Ohio Poll, President Bush has hit an all-time low in his approval rating in Ohio with only 35% approving and 63% disapproving. With Blackwell's biggest liability being he is too extreme and polarizing, I don't think having Bush come in is going to suddenly drive those Republicans who have become disenchanted with the President and the Republican Party come charging into the ballot booths for Blackwell in November.
And appearing side-by-side with President Bush is going to harm one of Blackwell's supposedly greater strengths: his ability to attract African-American voters. Let's face it, how else do you explain why the former Ohio chairman of the Bush/Cheney '04 campaign has no pictures of the President on his campaign website? Because his campaign knows you aren't going to win over skeptical African-American voters when they realize that Blackwell is a dye-in-the-wool defender and champion of the Bush Administration.
I predict that the Bush-Blackwell campaign fundraiser will be an unseen disaster for the Blackwell campaign. It will do nothing to help the rift in his party's base, and will alienate Blackwell from the African-American vote. Furthermore, as the recent federal campaign finance reports of the Republican Congressional and Senate campaign funds reveal, the President's once-vaunted ability to raise massive amounts of cash has substantially weakened. In fact, despite early claims that President Bush raised over $17 million for the Republican House and Senate campaign funds, the recent reports indicated that the much publicized fundraiser raised substantially less than claimed. Therefore, I will be watching to see if the Blackwell campaign's finance reports actually show the $1 million it claims Bush's visit will raise.
Not only does this poll show that Strickland's lead is growing while Blackwell's base has yet to heal from the divisive and bitter primary, but it shows Strickland dominating in almost all demographics. Strickland has substantial leads in all regions of Ohio except for southwestern and western Ohio. Except for a tie in 18-24 year-olds, Strickland has substantial leads in all age groups. He has a gender advantage with both male and female voters. He leads in all faiths, and among those of no faith. Overwhelming advantage in union households and substantial leads in non-union households. And Strickland has strong leads among all income levels of voters.
Given these leads, it seems that the 24% of undecided voters are not sold on Blackwell, but Strickland has not yet closed the deal on them. However, given the polling trends showing Strickland building his lead as Ohio voters get to know him and Blackwell, it's difficult to imagine anything the Blackwell campaign can do to get the 84% of the undecided votes it needs to close the gap and pull ahead.