Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Breaking it Down: The 3/31 Quinnipiac Ohio Poll

First things first.

Would I prefer Kasich and Portman be ahead in the most recent Quinnipiac poll? Of course.

Do their deficits in this poll make me worried? Not one bit.

A couple things to note before we get to the analysis...

1) this poll was done during the week Obama enjoyed some fantastic press off the passage of health care reform. Understandably, that should have provided a bit of the bump that I predicted yesterday and that the Dispatch discusses today in their analysis. Fortunately, that coverage has since dissipated and as I mentioned this morning, Gallup's HCR polling that was done halfway through Quinny's testing showed numbers turning bad again.

2) The sample. With Quinnipiac, it's always the sample. Registered voters instead of likely voters. As we all know, sampling registered over likely voters provides a result skewed to the left. Eventually, Quinnipiac will go to the likely voter model (probably in June). From what I understand, they determine likely voters based on their voting history. In other words, in a way that they could just as easily do now. So why not keep a consistent sample? This isn't a rhetorical question. I honestly don't understand why they change the sample in the middle of the election season. Logic would presume you'd want to maintain some consistency to better gauge the transformation of the electorate.

3) Party ID in the sample. There are some sketchy things that make me wonder about oversampling of Democrats, but I'll get to that later.

But enough blabbering, ultimately we have to work with the hand we're dealt, so let's get to the numbers...

The Topline
First off, Kasich is down five. The same deficit he faced in the last Quinnipiac Poll. Interesting that despite the HC bump, Strickland didn't seem to substantively benefit.

The differences? Kasich has gone from tied among Independents last month to up by 4. Meanwhile, the R and D numbers saw a minor 2 point flip in each direction.

Unfortunately for Portman, he saw a bit of a turnaround in his numbers, facing a 7 point swing in favor of Fisher. Strangely, his numbers by Party barely showed any variation from the previous month. -1 among Rs. Same among Ds. And -2 among Indies(though still +10 for Portman). For obvious reasons, that made me question the sampling of the poll and whether it skewed a little heavier towards Democrats. I've put in an inquiry with Quinnipiac to find out the Party ID sampling, and if I get any response I'll post it in an update. [UPDATE: My suspicions were correct. Click here for the update.]

Name ID
Kasich's favorability numbers showed a small increase while his disapproval numbers stayed at a mere 10%. To no surprise, Kasich is still unknown to almost 2/3 of registered voters. For comparison, in Rasmussen's sample of likely voters Kasich's name ID is unknown to just 24%. Why is that significant?

For that, look at the topline numbers by region. In central Ohio, where Kasich is best known, he's up by 12. And don't think that means the central OH sample is skewed right. Portman is down by 1 to Fisher and up by 1 to Brunner in the same region. That means the more voters know Kasich, the more likely they are to vote for him over Strickland.

Meanwhile, the Governor that has had 3 and a half years to woo Ohio, still has an underwater favorability rating of 46%.

In the Senate race, Ohio's Lieutenant Governor...the guy who has been on the statewide ballot approximately 47 times, Lee Fisher, has nearly the same number of people as John Kasich who have no idea who he is - 60%. His favorability numbers are still decent among those who do know him, which in actuality is great news for Portman.

As Ohio's Jobs Czar, Fisher will be particularly susceptible to paid media highlighting the results of his tenure at the Department of Development...and it won't be pretty.

Portman's numbers are still very solid. While still unknown, he sits at 25-8 favorability and an amazing 28-4 among Independents. Clearly, Fisher will try to attach him to the previous Administration. And as we've said before, it won't work.

The Parties
Independents, the ones that matter, have disapproval of the GOP at 46 and the Dems at 53. But what about the Tea Party?


Additionally, the the Tea Party has a +4 favorability rating. The GOP and Dems are both in the negative.

Still want to keep knocking the Tea Party, Dems?

Here's the health care bounce. Obama went from -8 to -1 in job approval, sitting at 47-48. Of course, that bounce still has him in the negative and underwater. I'll be very curious to see how this number changes in a month.

But the most fun question asked whether Ohioans would like to see the next Senator support or oppose the President. Oppose won by 2 overall and Independents went for oppose by 52-36. Ouch. Clearly, that's good news for Portman.

Health Care
Obama went from 58-34 disapproval on health care to 51-41 disapproval. A gain of 14 points. Once again, remember when this poll began testing? Right after passage of HCR when coverage was glowing. Since then, Gallup's polling over the weekend showed the national mood receding once again. And coverage has also been highly negative, so much so that Obama is now trying to distract from it with tales of drilling for oil off the coast of Virginia. [cough] sofullofcrap [cough]

Another interesting question in the poll asked if voters would be more or less likely to vote for a member of congress that supported Obamacare. 38-25 said less likely. Among Independents that number spiked to 41-19. Impressive.

But the most intriguing question was this, "If you agreed with a candidate for Congress on other issues, but completely disagreed on the issue of health care reform, do you think you could still vote for that candidate or not?"

Independents are the most intriguing folks to answer this question, and 39% of them said no. Combine that with the 41-19 number and you have a lot of Independents who will vote against Democrats come November, no matter what.

The Referendum
We've been saying it for a year now. And pollsters like Quinnipiac's Peter Brown agree. The Governor's race will be a referendum. The answers in this poll once again reinforce that the electorate isn't happy. As Brown says:
The bad news is there is a long way to go until November and on virtually all measures he receives below 50 percent support and with no movement - typically worrisome signs for an incumbent
So what are those measures?

61-38 are dissatisfied with the way things are going in Ohio.
41-36 don't believe Strickland kept his promises. (wait til they are reminded in commercials about his Turnaround Ohio pledge)
52-35 disapprove of the way Strickland is handling the most important issue in Ohio - the economy.
47-37 disapprove of the way Strickland is handling the budget. (wait til they are reminded Strickland led us into an $8 billion hole)

This is pretty simple, and nothing we haven't heard before. The opportunity to take advantage of the referendum on Strickland and Fisher is there. Both Kasich and Portman need to improve their name recognition if they want to improve their numbers. The question is when do you buy the ads necessary to do so. Voters clearly aren't quite paying attention yet.

I imagine both campaigns will be doing their own internal polling to determine the right time to hit before voters start hardening their decision on their choice for Governor and Senator. Until then, patience is a virtue.

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