Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Breaking it Down: The 6/7 Rasmussen Ohio Poll

There is one major takeaway from the latest Rasmussen Poll of the Ohio Governor's race.

After $1.3 million (Strickland for Governor- $501,030; AFSCME- $508,256; Building a Stronger Ohio/DGA/Teachers' Union- $295,750) in negative attacks against John Kasich, Ted Strickland has lost ground in the Ohio Governor's race.

It's that simple.

Now before we get into what the numbers say, I want to address all the silliness I see on twitter from Democrats attempting to discredit the pollster, Rasmussen Reports. If you want to just read the important takeaways from the poll, skip past these two points. Please take these two pieces of information into consideration:
1. Nate Silver, a left wing blogger known for his polling analysis and recently hired by the New York Times, very recently ranked Rasmussen as an "above average" poll. Is it the best? Nope. And no one claims it to be such. But you can't argue with results. In the analysis, Silver used something called "pollster induced error" to judge quality of polling. "PIE is expressed as a positive number and reflects the amount of error that a pollster introduces above and beyond that which is unavoidable due to things like sampling variance. The lower a firm's PIE the better." The best poll scored a 1.05. Rasmussen scored a 1.74. In other words, the variances really are extremely minor from poll to poll. That's why individual polls should never be considered a one and only reflection of the state of the race, but simply a snapshot in time that must become part of a mosaic of other polls. The more samples, the more accurate the mosaic.

2. Some may want to complain that Rasmussen overweighs Republicans in their sample. To those, please consider this: in the latest poll, Kasich won Republicans 87-8, a margin of +81. He also won Independents with a 26 point margin, 56-27. Comparitively, Strickland won Democrats with only a 66 point margin, earning 78-12 lead. Look at those leads and then remember Kasich is only up by 5 in the poll. Still think Republicans are oversampled? If anything, that advantage goes to the Democrats.
Ok, enough math.

Let's get to what the numbers say. And remember, this is only a snapshot. Not an absolute.

The Ohio Gubernatorial Race

Kasich Approval
First off, if there is a story to come from this poll it's that despite massive spending by Democrats to attack Kasich, his approval numbers were relatively unaffected.

Last month, Kasich's overall approval was 51-27. Now? 50-27. But what's amazing is that his unfavorables dropped among Democrats and Independents. From 28-43 to 24-41 among Democrats and from 49-29 to 49-25 among Independents. Sure, it's within margin of error, but who cares...after $1.3M in spending those disapprovals should have shot through the roof.

Age & Money
It's common knowledge that the younger generation does a worse job going to the polls than older voters. So it's bad news for the Governor that the only age group he won was the youngest bracket.

Same deal with lower incomes. Strickland only wins among those making less than $20,000 a year. Every other income bracket prefers Kasich. Guess who votes.

Job Approval
13% strongly approve of the job Strickland has done. 30% strongly disapprove. That's quite an enthusiasm gap. Overall, Strickland's job approval went from -1 to -12. That's not good.

These are the words I wrote when rumor spread that Strickland was about to go up on the air, but the content of the ad was still unknown.
As we've been saying for awhile, every poll out there, even the ones showing Strickland ahead, also show the Governor with some very high negatives. They also show Kasich with a name ID problem.

This poses Strickland with a problem. He needs to fix his own image while negatively defining his opponent. Unfortunately for Ted, voters tend not to believe such opposite messages coming from the same source at once.
Point goes to Me.

As I warned long ago, Strickland going negative straight out of the gate was an extremely poor strategic move. Before any negative ad could take hold with the electorate, Ted needed to dramatically revamp his own image. He decided against it.

And these poll numbers are the first evidence that Strickland and his cronies have wasted a boatload of cash.

All that said, what matters is the mosaic. And as we can see from pollster.com's graphic, Strickland must still be considered to hold a slight lead.

But the tightness of the race and Strickland's still far below water numbers validates the Kasich campaign's decision to hold off after Strickland first launched his attack a month ago. Rather than spend money unnecessarily, they saved it to fight another day. And it paid off. I guarantee they'd much rather spend their own $500k in October than May.

The Ohio Senate Race

The Bottom Line
Overall, the race is unchanged from last month. Both Portman and Fisher are tied. This time at 43 each. Considering neither has spent a cent - Portman because he doesn't need to and Fisher because TV stations don't take food stamps - that's no surprise.

Unaffiliated voters are horribly important in Ohio. And Portman is running away with them. In May, the Republican was up 10. This month he's up 19. But how Portman can be up 19 among Indies, both can be about even within their own Parties, and still be tied is beyond me. (DJ note: Yet more evidence of oversampling of Democrats, eh?)

Repealing Health Care
With so much unchanged from the last poll to this one, the more interesting poll question was the one asking if voters approved of repealing Obamacare. 59% support repeal. Amazingly, 44% of those strongly support getting rid of the disastrous new law. Remember, both Fisher and Strickland strongly tied themselves to the legislation in hopes it would benefit them politically down the road. Clearly, that isn't working.

In Summary
Unfortunately, not much new. But Fisher's inability to come launching out of the gate from his primary victory has to be a huge concern for Democrats. When you drop who knows how many millions to spend yourself to victory, you expect a bounce. And Fisher didn't get one. Portman still has a massive fundraising advantage. Once he and the NRSC start dropping some of their loot into the race, watch out.

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