By Jim Ellis
March 28, 2018 — Survey USA came into Ohio to test the Buckeye statewide races — campaigns that have not yet received much attention from national political pollsters. The results provided both expected and surprising tallies.
In the US Senate race, a campaign that has undergone a great deal of change after original candidate Josh Mandel, Ohio’s treasurer who held Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) to a 51-45 percent win in 2012, was forced to exit the re-match because of his wife’s recently discovered serious medical condition. Upon Mandel’s departure, Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth), who had already announced and was actively campaigning for governor, decided to switch gears and entered the Senate race.
Investment banker Mike Gibbons, an ally of Gov. John Kasich (R), was opposing Mandel while the latter man was still in the Senate contest, and continues to battle Rep. Renacci. S-USA tested them all.
According to the polling data (March 16-20; 1,408 likely Ohio voters; 541 GOP likely primary voters; 509 Democratic likely primary voters) Sen. Brown maintains strong, and identical, leads against both Republican contenders. Against Rep. Renacci and Gibbons individually, Sen. Brown’s advantage is 52-38 percent.
In the Senate Republican primary, a majority of GOP respondents remain undecided now six weeks from Ohio’s May 8 primary. Of those who did express a preference, Rep. Renacci held a 21-10 percent advantage over the largely unknown Cleveland investor.
While Democratic Sen. Brown has the advantage in the federal statewide race, it is Republican attorney general and former US Sen. Mike DeWine who looks to have the upper hand in the governor’s race according to the latest S-USA poll.
In the GOP primary, DeWine, chief beneficiary of the move to join forces on a ticket with Secretary of State Jon Husted much earlier in the race, enjoys a commanding lead over Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor. According to the S-USA results, his advantage is 50-18 percent.
The shock finding occurs in the Democratic race. Former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director and ex-Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray is apparently having a difficult time securing the Democratic gubernatorial nomination against gadfly former congressman and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich. Survey USA surprisingly finds the two men holding equal 21 percent support bases within the Democratic primary respondent universe.
Cordray is clearly the party establishment’s choice and his superior advantage in campaign resources will still very likely produce a primary victory on May 8, but his long absence from Ohio politics while he served in the federal position is clearly taking a toll. Previously elected as state treasurer and attorney general, Cordray was unseated from the latter position in 2010 by none other than DeWine.
In general election pairings, Attorney General DeWine again seizes the edge. He leads Cordray 47-39 percent, and opens up a larger gap over Kucinich, 51-38 percent.
While general election leaders Brown (Senate) and DeWine (governor) look to have significant leads today, the advantages are not prohibitive in either case. Therefore, the predicted close election in both instances is likely to unfold.