Word quickly spread yesterday about the Rasmussen poll that had Kasich up 1 against Jello Ted.
Now, no one believes polls this far out are indicative of how the race will play out, but with toplines like this one, they do accomplish a couple things and the demographic crosstabs indicate several others.
What do they do?
1) Used appropriately, they can give fundraising a kick in the butt. Contributors like to give to a winner...to someone that has a shot...to someone in an important race. This poll obviously indicates the first two are legit, and national media has repeatedly indicated the third.
2) It sparks a fire under the butts of the activist base. As was indicated last week at the Leading Ohio dinner when just Kasich's introduction brought the crowd to its feet, the candidate's efforts to swing through the state and hit up dozens upon dozens of Lincoln Day dinners has fired up the base. But seeing poll numbers like these provide that base a little red meat. It shows them there is a reason to be fired up. It shows them, that with hard work, they can help John win.
Now what do the demographic crosstabs indicate? Let's take a look...
1) First thing that stuck out were the age breakdowns. No where is it close. Strickland leads solidly among 18-29, 50-64, and 65+. Kasich maintains leads of 15 and 19 among 30-39s and 40-49s, respectively. A couple good things can be read into this one. Young people don't vote. Even in 2008 with Obama on the ballot, participation among that demographic was only slightly higher than normal. Imagine what it will be like in a midterm election with Ted Strickland inspiring them to get to the polls. As for the older generations, I just can't see Strickland maintaining his 14 point lead among the 65+ group. Yes, his politically well-targeted, but silly, property tax cut for seniors will obviously play well, you can't discount seniors' ill will towards Democrats in general thanks to how the health care reform plan has been played.
An Associated Press-GfK poll conducted this month showed that while the public in general was opposed to Democrats' health care proposals, seniors were almost twice as likely to be concerned. Opponents of Democrats' plans outnumbered supporters 49 percent to 34 percent. Among seniors, 59 percent were opposed compared with 31 percent in support.
This likely won't translate to flipping Strickland's numbers, but it will make a serious dent.
2) Independents. My favorite demographic this year. Kasich has a 14 point lead. This is ten points higher than the Quinnipiac poll from a couple weeks ago.
3) Another interesting difference between the Rasmussen poll and the Quinnipiac poll? Support among the base. With Rasmussen, Kasich has greater support among Republicans than Strickland does among Dems. In fact, Kasich's numbers among the base improved by 14 points net.
4) They know him.
Here's where we see the most massive difference between Rasmussen and Quinnipiac. In Quinnipiac's poll, 55% of Republicans didn't know Kasich. In Rasmussen, that number improves 34 points to 21%. Something else interesting to point out here is that the favorable numbers don't change, despite massively more voters knowing about him. In Rasmussen, the GOP approves of Kasich 66-13. With Quinnipiac, the proportion was relatively the same - 39-5. The GOP is fired up.
5) What about Kasich's indies? 47-19.
6) My favorite number from this poll? Kasich is only -4 in favoribility among....wait for it....Democrats.
Are you kidding me? If that sticks, Kasich wins. Hands down.
7) For comparison's sake, what about Strickland among Republicans? He's -59.
Conclusion: Identifying the candidate. That's the big difference between this poll and Quinnipac. So, why the difference? It's in who they are polling. Quinnipiac polls all registered voters. Rasmussen only polls likely voters.
Wanna take a second and tell me who is more likely to vote in a midterm election?
Exactly. Polling all registered voters matters more in Presidential years than midterms, when there aren't two big national names to vote for.
One of the most vital strategies for the Democrats coming into this election was to define John Kasich before he could define himself. "Lehman Lehman Lehman" is all we've heard from the opposition since Kasich announced.
But from the looks of these numbers, it may already be too late. Once a voter initially forms their opinion on a candidate, it's more difficult to change it. And a whole lotta likely voters already know John. And they dramatically approve.
As we move forward Ted Strickland faces a great challenge. His resume is one-sided. He is Governor. He will be judged on what has happened over the course of four years. That's it.
And at the same time, Strickland must convince the voters that all that matters about John Kasich is that he worked at Lehman Brothers at the time of the national financial disaster and is in some way responsible for it. Anyone who has a basic understanding of finance will know it's a massively intellectually dishonest strategy, but it alone could be effective.
[DJ note: How depressing must it be knowing your only argument is based on a completely and intellectually dishonest debate tactic? I wonder if it makes it hard to sleep at night.]
If that's all there was to John.
But it isn't. John's resume of service goes back decades. You will be overloaded with commercials that repeatedly highlight John's role as architect of the first federal balanced budget since man walked on the moon. Voters will have a choice, either believe these commercials from John are a total lie, or don't. If they believe there is a shred of truth to them, which obviously there is, then Strickland's Lehman Brothers argument will be discounted. "Sure, he worked there, but Kasich obviously knows how to fix government," they'll say.
And this doesn't even bring to mind Strickland's negatives. Comparitive and negative ads will completely destroy whatever shred of credibility the Governor has left. As I've said before, the amount of ammo is massive.
And the GOP knows how to shoot straight.
h/t again to WMD for his help with obtaining the numbers.