Two new polls released Wednesday show the same basic picture of two key midterm races: Incumbent Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown (Ohio) holds a comfortable lead over his Republican challenger, Rep. Jim Renacci, while the Ohio gubernatorial race is too close to call.
What are the details?
The first poll, commissioned by Quinnipiac University, shows Brown enjoying a 51 percent to 34 percent lead over Renacci. Meanwhile, the Quinnipiac poll shows Democratic gubernatorial nominee Richard Cordray leading Republican gubernatorial nominee Mike DeWine by a 42 percent to 40 percent margin.
However, the survey shows that DeWine has an opportunity to make a serious dent in Cordray’s standing, since fully 51 percent of respondents indicated that they did not even know enough about Cordray to form an opinion.
Of those who did have an opinion, 32 percent expressed a favorable opinion, while 15 percent had an unfavorable opinion of Cordray. Voters who are familiar with DeWine view him favorably by a narrow 34 percent to 31 percent margin, according to the poll.
Meanwhile, Brown continues to enjoy a strong position. In addition to his direct head-to-head lead over Renacci, he is viewed favorably by 55 percent of poll respondents, compared to 29 percent who view him unfavorably.
Renacci remains relatively unknown, with 50 percent of poll respondents indicating that they did not know enough about him to form an opinion. Among those familiar with Renacci, only 22 percent view him favorably, compared to 26 percent who view him unfavorably.
The poll also found that Sen. Rob Portman (R), who is not up for re-election, is viewed favorably by Ohio voters by a 42 percent to 36 percent margin. President Donald Trump is viewed unfavorably by a 54 percent to 43 percent margin.
The second poll, taken by Suffolk University, likewise shows Brown enjoying a comfortable 53-37 lead over Renacci. The Suffolk poll shows Cordray enjoying a 43 percent to 36 percent lead over DeWine. The Suffolk poll likewise showed that DeWine was much more well known than Cordray, about whom nearly half of all respondents hadn’t heard enough to form an opinion.
Forty-nine percent of respondents to the Suffolk poll indicated that they were voting “to change the direction President Trump is leading the nation,” while 28 percent indicated that supporting President Trump was an important factor in their vote.
What does it mean?
When Donald Trump won Ohio with relative ease in the 2016 presidential election, Republicans were bullish on picking up a possible Senate seat from the incumbent Brown. However, early returns indicate that Renacci may have a steep uphill climb to unseat the Democrat. Brown’s popularity remains high and his head-to-head lead is large enough that he may be able to avoid directly engaging his challenger.
Meanwhile, Republicans appear to be in a better position to hold on to one of the more important governorships in the country. While DeWine trails by a narrow margin in both polls, that appears to be largely a function of the fact that his challenger is mostly unknown.
DeWine, meanwhile, has almost universal name recognition in Ohio, which is both good and bad. However, he will likely have access to a significant war chest that he will be able to use to paint Cordray in a negative light, which will likely end up making this race a dogfight to the finish.