Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Strickland continues solid lead, Blackwell has had no positive movement since Nov. '05

According to the July Rasmussen Reports, Congressman Ted Strickland continues to maintain his double-digit lead in the Ohio gubernatorial race with 50% to Blackwell's 39%. Now three months from the general election, Ken Blackwell's campaign has got to be getting nervous. As I stated back in May, Strickland's numbers had been rising and Blackwell was stuck in the upper-30s. Over the summer, it appears Strickland's support has plateaued around the magic 50% mark while Blackwell has stayed around the same numbers he's had since Rasmussen began polling the race in November 2005.

So, not only is Strickland's double-digit, magic 50% polling numbers causing Blackwell's campaign considerable heartburn, but the rest of the Rasmussen July poll should leave them an inconsolable wreck.

Among the eye-popping details of the poll:
  • Strickland is leading the Cross-Over Appeal Award. Strickland captures 23% of GOP voters and continues to do better with unaffiliated and independent voters. On the other hand, Blackwell only attracts only 9% of the Democratic cross-over vote. This means that Strickland is far more attractive to traditionally Republican voters while Blackwell is not managing to do any better with Democratic voters than any other Republican typically does. (This result has been found in several other statewide polls as well, using different methodologies than Rasmussen.)
  • Blackwell is up since June in one category (but not a cause of celebration.) The number of people who view Blackwell "very unfavorably" has gone up six points since last month. That's the only reported change in the poll that is statistically significant since June. 31% of Ohioans view "very unfavorably." These voters are unlikely, therefore, to change their minds before election day.
  • Ohioans really don't like Ken Blackwell. Overall, Blackwell has a net favorability rating of -5%. 48% of all Ohioans view Ken Blackwell unfavorably.
  • Ohioans really like Ted Strickland. In contrast, Congressman Strickland is viewed favorably by over 50% of Ohioans.
  • It's the economy, stupid. Ohioans rate the state's economy, by far, as the most important issue. After sixteen years of Republican control, dissatisfaction with the economy is not going to help Blackwell or the Republican Party.

In order to win, the Blackwell campaign is going to have to do something in the next three months it has failed to do in the past nine months. Blackwell's campaign is going to have to substantially rehabilitate the public's view of Blackwell while substantially redefine Ohioans' perception of Ted Strickland negatively.

Because of his near-universal name recognition and net negative favorability ratings, it's not enough for Blackwell to win over the remaining undecided voters or voters who feel that Strickland is an unknown. Blackwell must reverse the mass exodus of his party's base to Strickland, change his negative favorability ratings into the positive column, and drive Strickland's high favorability ratings down. Blackwell cannot catch up to Strickland while he's weighed down by his negative favorability ratings. They are the reason Blackwell has hit a ceiling in his support from which he has not been able to move from since November of last year. While Blackwell will likely have the resources to wage an effective campaign, Blackwell has failed to quiet growing Republican skepticism that he has the strategy and ability to execute a campaign which will continue the Republican Party's political dominance in Ohio.

And regardless of how many polls Republicans try to discredit, the inescapable conclusion is that Blackwell has done nothing to bridge the schism caused by his divisive primary with Attorney General Jim Petro and is too extreme and polarizing for the Ohio electorate. In short, people just don't like Ken Blackwell, and he's not done anything in the last nine months to suggest that he can convince people to change their minds about him.

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