I think what brought the biggest smile to my face wasn’t actually the 51-41 lead Kasich is enjoying in the latest Quinnipiac poll of likely voters. It was the progressively more dire quotes of Peter Brown of Quinnipiac when discussing Ted Strickland’s chances. You can tell he starts out wanting to hedge his bets a bit, but can’t help himself by the end. Check it out:
1. “John Kasich’s lead has remained the same and the sand is slipping through the hour glass. If Gov. Ted Strickland is going to turn this election around, he needs to do it quickly. But the obvious question is, ‘What can Strickland do in the two weeks before Election Day that he has been unable to do so far?'”
2. “Although it is hypothetically possible, it’s difficult to see how anyone can win a statewide election when they are getting beat so badly among independents. The race may be a dead heat among women, but it is a landslide among men. President Barack Obama’s 63 percent disapproval rating among independent voters is an extremely heavy anchor around Ted Strickland’s neck.”
3. “Anything is possible in politics, but if Gov. Strickland is able to pull out a victory it will take the kind of final drive that makes history.”
How depressing. For Team Strickland, that is.
But let’s get into the numbers and what they mean as we head into the final stretch.
First off, there is the obvious. Kasich is again over the 50% barrier. Strickland is still stuck where he’s been all year – in the lower 40s.
Next, Quinnipiac broke things down in a way that highlights what I’ve been saying all along about the Quinny polls – the questions they have been asking about the direction of Ohio have been very important. For months I’ve been saying the indicators about pessimism on the economy and where Ohio was moving would be a good indication of whether voters deemed Strickland worthy of another term.
So what do we see? People who think the economy is getting worse choose Kasich 76-13. Those who think it’s the same choose Kasich 50-42. And those who think things are getting better choose Turnaround Ted 89-6. The bad news for Ted? 81% of Ohioans believe things are getting worse or have stayed the same. It’s a referendum election, folks.
92% of Kasich supporters say their mind is made up. Strickland needs pretty much every single one of the 8% that say their vote may still be up for grabs.
What about Kasich’s favorable numbers? Since Strickland decided to go up on the air attacking Kasich all the way back in May in order to try to define Kasich first, with two weeks to go we can safely determine whether it worked. The answer is a resounding no. Kasich’s favorables are at 47-33, or +14. That’s compared to Ted’s -4 rating – a net 18 point difference. Looking deeper, Kasich’s favorables among those Strickland was most looking to influence, Independents, couldn’t be much better. They have a favorable opinion of Kasich by 53-27, or +26. Compare that to Ted’s 34-55 rating among Indies and you have a net difference in favorables among the swing voters of 47 points. 47. Wow.
Other interesting numbers?
By 2-1, Independents believe Kasich would do a better job rebuilding Ohio’s economy.
Confirming what we saw in their last poll, only 4% of Independents said an Obama visit would make them more likely to vote for Strickland. 35% said less likely. Interestingly enough, only 23% of Democrats said they would be more likely. Compare that to 34% in Quinny’s last poll and you have Team Strickland even more worried about the damage done by Sunday’s rally.
Will Independents change their mind in these last two weeks? Well, considering only 16% of them think the economy is getting better I think the chances are slim to none.
In summary, right now John Kasich is in extremely good shape. Efforts to define Kasich as unacceptable to voters have failed. Strickland has been consistently unable to move beyond the low 40s, and there is no reason to believe he can fix that in the next two weeks.
The only question left? GOTV.
The GOP has the wave at their backs, but it means nothing if they can’t get their supporters out to vote. This means more than phone banking. It means e-mailing your friends. It means talking to them in the grocery store. It means doing whatever you can to motivate people to do what’s necessary to bring real change to Ohio.
Let’s get it done.