Liberal newspapers and Ohio Democrats are trumpeting a new poll commissioned by eight Ohio newspapers (including the Dayton Daily News, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Cincinnati Enquirer, and the Columbus Dispatch that shows incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland only down by four points to Republican challenger John Kasich. Previous polls had put Kasich up by as many as 17 points, and the supposed tightening of the race has the Strickland camp ecstatically predicting a lead in the polls “by next week” and saying their own polls have Strickland only down by two.
The Strickland campaign can say whatever it wants – I’m more interested in this poll that has almost by design reenergized the foundering Strickland campaign. The poll was conducted the University of Cincinnati’s Institute for Policy Research, yet on the Institute’s own website I can find no mention of the poll or a press release with cross-tabs. I’ve had a hell of a time trying to find a document at all that explains the methodology and partisan breakdown of this poll beyond the standard line of “This poll has 852 respondents with a 3.4% margin of error.”
The partisan identification is what is important in polls like this. Other national polls of interest have also shown tightening – when the Democrat bloc is ridiculously oversampled or overweighted. Allahpundit documents weakening poll support for California’s Carly Fiorina due to a turnout model of Democrats at a 17% higher rate than in 2008 for Obama’s election. Likewise, in Kentucky, Rand Paul’s lead has evaporated, at least if you believe one poll that has Dems coming out in 4% higher numbers and the GOP coming out 4% lower. In an off-year election where the national enthusiasm gap massively favors the GOP, I don’t think so.
Is this poll similarly flawed? Since we don’t have the internal numbers for the poll, it’s impossible to say. However, with nearly all other polls in the neighborhood of an 8-10 point Kasich lead, at the very least this poll is an outlier. Yet this is the poll that led Ohio newspapers on Sunday and is being trumpeted as a juicing up of the base – never mind that the same poll shows Portman destroying Fisher and President Obama falling even deeper underwater.
I’ll try to contact the Institute for Policy Research to see if they can’t point me in the direction of their partisan numbers. Until then, remember, one poll does not define a race, unless it’s the final poll that takes place on November 2nd.