Disclaimer: Just as our post a couple days ago on other poll numbers, the same goes here. The 2012 election is a long ways away. A lot can and will change. But every campaign needs a starting point, and that's what these analyses are meant to help frame.
A couple weeks ago 3BP discussed some very troubling numbers for Sherrod Brown that hadn't really been discussed in the press. They indicated the Senator may be very vulnerable to a Republican challenger in 2012.
Well, brand spankin' new numbers from PPP confirm that theory.
While Brown currently maintains a lead over most of his likely opponents, the level of support is nowhere near the level it needs to be for him to stand a chance in 22+ months.
Currently, Brown leads Lt. Gov-elect Mary Taylor 40-38, SoS-elect Jon Husted 43-38, Rep. Jim Jordan 43-35, and ties Atty. Gen-elect Mike DeWine at 43.
In other words, after four years of service in the Senate, Sherrod Brown is averaging just 42.3% support against both known political veterans and relative newcomers.
By comparison, after three years as Governor and at this time last year, Ted Strickland was earning an average of 48.7% support across the three major polls taken over December and January. We all know how that turned out.
With more years of service to his state than Strickland and with seemingly less responsibility for its economic problems, you'd expect Brown to have better numbers. He doesn't.
Additionally, Brown's approval sits at just 40% and is at -20 among Independent voters.
Even worse news? The PPP poll sampled registered voters, not likely voters. As we all know, registered voter samples tend to skew further left than likely voter models.
Of the challengers, Mike DeWine is by far the most well known with only 73% having an opinion of him. Husted comes in with 38%, Jordan with 27%, and Taylor with a surprisingly low 35%.
The strangest number that came out of this poll? Despite DeWine coming in with -13 favorability, he still ties Brown. A rare feat.
Since 3 of the 4 GOP candidates are so unknown, it's hard to gauge who would have a solid head start if all four jump in. PPP did poll favorability by ideology, so we can determine who has the best ratings among conservatives (i.e., those most likely to vote in a primary). Thanks to their erratic name ID numbers, I've divided their favorable number by their unfavorable. In other words, if someone is 20% favorable to 10% unfavorable, their number would be 2. This gives us a constant data point that helps us see where a candidate stands among those that know them. The higher constant, the better the candidate does among conservatives that know them.
Dewine is at 46-30, or 1.53.
Husted is at 29-13, or 2.23.
Jordan is at 16-10, or 1.6.
Taylor is at 27-12, or 2.25.
So, among conservatives that know each candidate, Husted and Taylor perform the best.
Yep, it's a stretch, but it's all we've got for now.
Of course, this doesn't consider the massive gorilla in the room - Jim Jordan's $846,501 already stowed away and available for spending on the primary. In a primary where 3 of the 4 potential candidates clearly have a long way to go to build up their name ID, money matters. And Jordan has a lot of it. The other three will have to start at zero.
But ultimately, and as PPP mentions in their summary, the major player in determining whether Brown gets re-elected is how Obama does in Ohio. If he does well, that helps Brown. If he doesn't, it hurts Brown. Pretty simple and pretty obvious.
That said, neither candidate is currently in a good position, and that means Ohio's Senate seat is up for grabs.
Despite Jordan's low name ID, his cash advantage has to make him the favorite. His conservative credentials are impeccable so it's hard to see where he could run into any trouble from a messaging standpoint.
Obviously, there are an enormous number of variables yet to be determined, but we have to start somewhere.
Considering Brown's extreme liberal voting record in the Senate and his poor poll numbers after serving for four years, it's hard to see how Brown won't be a top target in '12.