First off - Wow. Lots of interesting information is contained within. It took awhile to go over it all.
The number you'll be hearing primarily on local news is the topline - Kasich down ten to Strickland.
Make no mistake, at the end of the day the most important number to each candidate is who has more votes.
But it isn't the end of the day.
Far from it.
And because of this, it's necessary to look deeper into the numbers to properly gauge where the 2010 Ohio gubernatorial race currently stands.
So off we go...
- The first demographic highlighted in the numbers is candidate support by Party. While Democrats support Strickland 81-5, Republicans only support Kasich 73-15. Without question, the Kasich campaign wishes their candidate's numbers equaled Strickland's when it comes to Party support. Interestingly enough, these numbers are very similar to the poll released back in early July. Only when we get to name recognition numbers do we learn why this has happened. While Strickland is enjoying 79% name recognition from Democrats, Kasich is only at 44% among Republicans. It's obscenely difficult for a Republican to support a GOP candidate when they know zero about him, especially among those Republicans still suffering from the hangover brought on by Bob Taft and Co. Without question, over the course of the next 14 months Republicans will have an abundance of opportunities to learn more about their nominee and provide him the base support necessary for victory.
- Good news for Kasich is that he continues to enjoy greater support from Independents; winning them 39-35. This is a slightly greater margin than the same poll from July.
- After chatting with folks over at Quinnipiac, I was able to obtain the Party ID breakdown for this poll. It came out to 27% Republican, 36% Democrat, and 31% Independent. Based on exit poll results from the 2008 election, this breakdown is only slightly generous to Democrats. But, it's important to note that the political environment is vastly different from November of 2008. According to Rasmussen, nationally speaking the margin of those identifying themselves as Republicans and Democrats has shrunk almost in half since November. Currently, 37.3% identify themselves as Democrats and 32.6% identify themselves as Republicans. I think it's safe to assume Ohio, as the bellweather state, has had a comparable change in Party identification, and in turn, Party ID for this poll may be slightly skewed towards Democrats.
- Next up, among evangelicals Kasich still enjoys a healthy 17 point lead. As we mentioned a few days ago in our Rifqa Bary post, it will be interesting to see if this lead increases or not.
- Among Democrats, Strickland's approval rating has continued to deteriorate to 65 approve-15 disapprove. While this may seem like a positive on the surface, having 15% of your base disapproving of you causes a serious problem to your get out the vote efforts. When it comes to a re-election campaign, a candidate needs to find a way to reinvigorate his base to support him once again. With continued disapproval numbers among Democrats, that's not going to happen.
- Also getting worse for Strickland are his approval numbers among Independents where 40% disapprove and only 30% approve.
- On the other hand, Kasich enjoys 39-5 approval among Republicans and 24-6 among Independents.
- Things get worse for Jello Stricktaft on the "do you approve of the way Ted Strickland has handled his job as Governor" question. Democrat disapproval increases and the margin of disapproval among Independents widens to 15.
- Worse still is the question of whether Ted Strickland kept his campaign promises or not. 25% of Democrats said no while the no to yes gap among Indies stood at 20.
- Finally, Quinnipiac asks whether the voter is satisfied with the way things are going in Ohio. Among Democrats, 51% are satisfied and a whopping 48% are dissatisfied. The numbers among Independents are enough to make Strickland cry. 67% are dissatisfied and only 32% are satisfied.
- Without massively increasing their confidence in him, Ted Strickland will not be able to count on getting enough Democrats to the polls to win.
- Independents don't like Ted Strickland, the job he's doing, or the condition of their state - and that trend is increasing.
- John Kasich's topline poll numbers will not show serious improvement until his name recognition grows.
Don't think this has to happen all at once. The Kasich camp is smart to allow Strickland to wallow in the mess he made for himself and allow the electorate to firm up their perception of him as a failure. When the time is right next year, Kasich will put his campaign team into overdrive. Until then, don't expect massive changes in polling data.
The Kasich formula for victory over the next nearly 14 months is simple: 1) Define yourself before Ted Strickland does it for you; 2) Increase name recognition and build confidence among the base and Independents by providing common sense solutions to what ills Ohio; 3) Target Democrats and Independents to reinforce their perception of Strickland's failures.
The strategy is nothing new or unique. But it will bring Ohio a new Governor.