I didn't like the two latest polls.
Newly minted official pollster of national Dem blog They Daily Kos, PPP, has Kasich up one, 49-48.
The Columbus Dispatch mail-in poll has Kasich up 49-47.
Don't get me wrong, I'd much rather be ahead than behind, but both of these are within their margin of error, meaning things are incredibly tight.
That said, there are reasons to be optimistic.
First, let's look at PPP.
What struck me first was their partisan breakdown. By far, they have the largest sample of Democrats we've seen from any pollster in awhile. According to PPP, 43% of the electorate are Dems, 37% are GOP, and 20% are Independents.
To put that into some perspective, in the year of Obama, 2008, the CNN exit poll showed the Democrat portion of the electorate at just 39%. In other words, PPP's poll says a larger portion of the electorate this year will be Democrats than when they voted for Barack Obama. Somehow, I'm not confident that will be the case this year.
But there was another number in the PPP poll that simply shocked me, and should greatly worry Democrats. Kasich is up 56-38 among Independents. That's an 18 point advantage.
Among partisans, both are doing well with Strickland getting 87% of Democrats and Kasich getting 90% of Republicans.
That said, Strickland only gets 75% approval from Democrats. That a sitting Governor who has been in office for four years can only gain 75% from his base is stunning. Among Independents, Strickland's approval is in the dumps, coming in at 30%-58%. Comparatively, Kasich's favorables among Independents sit at +7, a net difference of 35 points. That explains the massive margin of Independents favoring Kasich.
What about Obama?
His overall approval in Ohio sits at just 38%. Among Democrats he gets only 71%. That means more than 1/4 of his entire base doesn't approve. Pretty amazing.
And the Independent voters? Pretty ugly. By 30-61%, they disapprove of the President.
Ultimately, this PPP poll with their heavy Democratic sample seems to be a best case scenario for Democrats on Tuesday. And that's not good enough.
Now the Dispatch poll...
This one seems a bit more realistic to me, but not without some questions.
Party breakdown works out to 42%R, 40%D, 16%I. That seems to be an undersampling of the likely number of Independents, but is likely accurate in the GOP advantage of 2 points. For comparison, in 2006 we saw CNN's exit poll showing a 40D, 37R, 23I breakdown. Considering Blackwell's position in 2006 at the time of the election, it's not surprising that Dems had the turnout advantage. Fortunately, things are a bit different this time around.
But onto the results.
Once again, both candidates do well with their partisans, with Kasich winning 89% of GOP voters and Strickland winning 92% of Dems. Once again, we see a Kasich advantage among Independents - winning 49-40.
Strickland is up eight among early voters in the poll. But is that enough? As a percentage, Obama had about an 18 point lead coming out of early voting in 2008 and he only went on to win Ohio 51-47. In other words, Strickland's 8-point lead is not near where it needs to be to hammer down a victory.
Most geographic and age breakdowns are about what you'd expect, but it's the enthusiasm numbers that really struck me.
Voters were asked, compared to previous elections, if they were more enthusiastic than usual about voting, less enthusiastic, or about the same.
Among those more enthusiastic, Kasich voters have a 71-26 advantage. Strickland has a large lead among those who are less enthusiastic or about the same. In other words, if the Strickland machine can get these people to the polls, they may stand a chance. But turnout has to favor Kasich at this point.
In summary, yes, things have definitely tightened and this could go either way. That said, I'm still supremely confident that the incredibly consistent lack of support for Strickland among Independents and the enthusiasm gap is too much for any visit by President Obama to overcome.
After these two most recent polls, RealClearPolitics now has the Kasich advantage at 48.8 to 45.8.
Now let's take advantage of the incoming wave and go win this.
Get out the vote!