Ohio GOP Bracing for Disaster
Internal polling conducted by the Ohio Republican Party indicates this fall’s election could be among the top three worst ever for state GOP candidates, party sources said.
The poll numbers, which haven’t been publicly released, show that deep voter discontentment with Gov. Bob Taft and other current state officeholders, as well as some misgivings about President Bush, is seeping over into other political races.
Recent GOP polling data has Democrats sweeping all statewide offices up for election: governor, attorney general, auditor, secretary of state and treasurer. Also, the fallout is affecting the U.S. Senate race, with Republican incumbent Mike DeWine trailing Democratic challenger Sherrod Brown by up to seven percentage points, sources said.
The good news for Republicans is that the trend doesn’t appear to be spreading to U.S. House races, where GOP candidates are faring better. In fact, the latest polling has incumbent Steve Chabot beating Democrat John Cranley for Ohio’s 1st Congressional District seat.
Overall, the poll shows that voters prefer Democrats over Republicans by roughly 60 percent to 40 percent when asked about a generic race. The GOP’s numbers rise slightly when respondents were asked about specific candidates.
Party insiders said the political climate is the worst the state GOP has faced since the elections of 1958 and 1970, when many Republicans were swept from office. In the former election, the GOP faced a backlash over its proposed “right to work” amendment that would have outlawed mandatory union membership agreements, which was defeated by almost a million votes. In the latter election, the party was rocked by a scandal in the state treasurer’s office.
— Kevin Osborne