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BGSU Poll shows Ohio Republicans backing Trump, Carson; Democrats favor Clinton, Biden

Ohio voters skeptical of all candidates' honesty and trustworthiness

BOWLING GREEN, O.—A new Bowling Green State University poll shows Republicans in Ohio are favoring outsiders Donald Trump and Ben Carson in the 2016 presidential race, while Democrats are looking toward insiders former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and—if he enters the race—Vice President Joe Biden.

The BGSU Poll conducted by Zogby Analytics surveyed 804 likely Ohio voters in the 2016 general election (249 Republican, 306 Democrat, 249 Independent). The poll was conducted Oct. 16 and 17 and the results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Among likely GOP primary voters in Ohio, Trump leads with 26.9 percent of the vote, followed by Carson with 21.8 percent of the vote. Ohio Governor John Kasich garners just 13 percent of the vote.

“'Outsider-ism' isn’t new in American politics. Candidates as different as Ronald Reagan in 1980 and Barack Obama in 2008 ran as Washington outsiders," said Dr. Melissa Miller, an associate professor of political science at BGSU. "What’s different this year is that the outsiders doing so well on the Republican side haven’t held political office before. Woe to the seasoned politicians running on the Republican side this year—Ohio’s likely Republican primary voters grant them all single-digit status save for their own Republican governor, John Kasich.”

Among likely Democratic primary voters in Ohio, Clinton leads with 53.8 percent of the vote, followed by Bernie Sanders with 22.7 percent. When those same voters were given the same candidate options, plus Biden, Clinton still leads with 38.2 percent, followed by Biden with 20.5 percent. Sanders then moves into third place with 16.9 percent.

"Hillary Clinton's 31 point lead over Bernie Sanders among Ohio's likely Democratic primary voters may stem in part from her solid performance in CNN's televised debate," said Miller. "It may also reflect some goodwill toward Secretary Clinton and the Clinton brand—Bill Clinton carried Ohio in both 1992 and 1996, and Hillary Clinton beat then-candidate Barack Obama in Ohio's 2008 Democratic presidential primary."

GENERAL ELECTON MATCH-UPS

In a series of general election match-ups against GOP leader Donald Trump, Democrats have the edge. 

Clinton and Biden do equally well against Trump; each posts an 11-point margin over the current Republican leader. Clinton takes 45.9 percent and Trump 34.8 percent in their two-way match-up. Biden takes 44.6 percent and Trump 33.3 percent in their head-to-head.

Sanders has a somewhat lower 8-point margin over Trump, taking 42.4 percent versus the business mogul with 34.4 percent in their two-way match-up.

In a series of general election match-ups against Carson—currently in second place among GOP primary voters—Democrats also have an edge, although it is slightly smaller than their edge over Trump. Clinton has a 10-point margin over Carson—44.7 percent to 35.2 percent, respectively. Biden has a 9-point margin over Carson at 42.2 percent to 33.3 percent, respectively, and Sanders has a 7-point margin over Carson.

In the match-up against former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Biden has the widest margin among Democrats, although Clinton garners a higher percentage of votes against him. Biden has an 18-point margin over Bush—44.9 percent to 26.8 percent. Clinton enjoys a 17-point margin, garnering 47 percent to Bush's 30.5 percent. Sanders has a 13-point margin over Bush (42.9 percent to 29.5 percent).

Matched up to Carly Fiorina, Biden has the widest margin, although again, Clinton garners a higher percentage of votes against the former HP executive. Biden leads Fiorina 43 to 27.3 percent, respectively, Clinton has a 15-point margin—44.9 to 30.3 percent and Sanders leads 41.7 to 29.4 percent

FAVORABILITY AND INDIVIDUAL TRAITS

Republican candidates do not fare well when voters assess them individually. Only Kasich and Carson are more often rated favorably than unfavorably by Ohio’s likely presidential election voters. All of the other Republican candidates are “underwater,” with higher percentages of voters viewing them unfavorably than favorably.

Kasich enjoys the highest favorability ratings among all the Republican candidates; 43.4 percent view him favorably while 37.7 percent view him unfavorably.

Carson is also more likely to be viewed favorably than unfavorably by likely Ohio voters—39.9 percent to 37.2.

Trump, the leading candidate among GOP primary voters, is "underwater" in terms of favorability. Just under 54 percent of likely Ohio voters in the 2016 presidential election view him unfavorably versus 36.7 percent viewing him favorably.
 
Although Bush and Fiorina are tied for fourth in the Ohio Republican primary among likely voters, their favorability ratings among all voters are quite different. Fiorina is "underwater" by 9.5 points (29.5 percent favorable; 39 percent unfavorable). Bush is “underwater” by more than double that at 23.6 points (29.7 percent favorable; 53.3 percent unfavorable). Notably, 31.5 percent of Ohio likely voters were either not familiar enough with Fiorina, or not sure how to rate her. This same was true for just 17 percent of Ohio likely voters when it came to Bush.

"The contentious GOP primary seems to be taking its toll on the Republican brand," said Miller. "Virtually all of the Republicans—save for Ohio’s own governor John Kasich and outsider pediatric surgeon Ben Carson—are underwater in terms of voter favorability.”
 
Ohio voters’ ratings of the Democratic candidates for president were markedly more balanced. For Clinton, virtually the same proportion of 2016 likely Ohio voters rated her favorably (46.4 percent) as unfavorably (46.1 percent).

Sanders enjoys a slight positive skew in his favorability ratings. While 39 percent view Sanders favorably, 34.8 percent view him unfavorably. Like Sanders, Biden enjoys a slight positive skew in his favorability ratings. 45.3 percent view Biden favorably, while 41.3 percent view him unfavorably.

Ohio voters are skeptical of each candidate’s honesty and trustworthiness. None of the candidates on either side of the aisle breaks the 50 percent threshold by Ohio’s likely presidential election voters.
 
Among the Democratic candidates, Biden has the best rating; 45.6 percent view Biden as honest and trustworthy, while 38.3 percent view Sanders as the same. Meanwhile, Clinton fares least well among the top three Democrats; she is viewed as honest and trustworthy by just 34.2 percent.

Among the Republican candidates, Carson is most widely viewed as honest and trustworthy by 38.2 percent of Ohio’s likely presidential election voters. Meanwhile, Trump, Bush and Fiorina have virtually identical ratings, with just under three in 10 Ohio voters viewing them as honest and trustworthy (29.5 percent for Trump, 29 percent for Bush, and 28.4 percent for Fiorina).
 
Ohio voters appear skeptical that either the Democrats or the Republicans possess other key presidential traits as well. On the important matter of being “ready to be Commander in Chief,” none of the candidates gained majority backing.
 
Among the Democratic candidates, Clinton garnered the highest ratings in terms of Commander in Chief readiness—47.2 percent of likely presidential voters in Ohio viewed Clinton as ready, versus 44.5 percent for Biden and 27.1 percent for Sanders.

Among the Republican candidates, Trump (28.3 percent) and Bush (28.4 percent) are in a virtual tie in terms of being viewed as ready to serve as Commander in Chief. Meanwhile, 26.1 percent of likely presidential voters in Ohio viewed Ben Carson as ready, and 19.8 percent viewed Carly Fiorina as ready.
 
Relatively few likely voters in the 2016 presidential election feel that either the Democrats or the Republicans “cares about people like [them].” Again, on the Democratic side Biden has the best ratings while Carson enjoys the highest ratings on the Republican side.
 
Among the Democratic candidates, 42.7 percent believe Joe Biden “cares about people like [me].” This compares with 38.9 percent for Clinton and 35.4 percent for Sanders.

Among the Republican candidates, 33.7 percent believe Ben Carson “cares about people like [me].” This compares with 26.7 percent for Donald Trump, 25.4 percent for Jeb Bush and 24.1 percent for Carly Fiorina.

Zogby Analytics conducted the survey online on Oct. 16 and 17 as part of an Ohio survey of likely voters. Additional BGSU Poll results on the Ohio ballot issues, Senate race, the impact of celebrity endorsements, and what Ohio voters think about funding for Planned Parenthood, will be released in the coming days.

The BGSU poll explores attitudes on critical issues facing the citizens of Ohio and supports the research interests of the University’s faculty and students.

Editor's Note: Graphics showing the breakdown of these results can be found here.

BGSU Poll: Marijuana legalization too close to call in Ohio

Voters’ age, religion and music preference also plays a factor in marijuana acceptance

BOWLING GREEN, O.—Ohio could be the largest state in the country, and the first in the Midwest, to legalize marijuana when voters go to the polls on Nov. 3. But according to a new Bowling Green State University statewide poll of likely voters, the issue is too close to call.

The BGSU Poll, conducted by Zogby Analytics, surveyed 804 likely Ohio voters in the 2016 general election (249 Republican, 306 Democrat, 249 Independent). The poll was conducted Oct. 16 and 17 and the results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Issue 3 would create a monopoly for the commercial sale of marijuana in the Buckeye State.  When 782 likely November 2015 voters were asked their views, 44.4 percent said they support it, 42.9 percent oppose it, and 12.7 percent are undecided. Issue 3 remains too close to call when the sample is limited to “definite” November voters: 46 percent support legalization, 45 percent are opposed and 9 percent are unsure.

Issue 2 is closely related to Issue 3 and may determine its fate. Issue 2 would prohibit any person or group from creating a monopoly, oligopoly, or cartel for their exclusive financial benefit, and it looks to be headed for approval. Among likely November voters, 55.8 percent support it, while 30.4 percent are opposed and 13.7 percent are undecided.

“Issue 3 looks like it’s going to be a nail-biter,” said Dr. David J. Jackson, professor of political science at BGSU. “Voters are ambivalent about marijuana legalization, but certain they don’t like monopolies. If the marijuana legalization referendum fails and the monopoly prohibition passes, that would indicate supporters of legalization made a significant strategic error pushing for legalization through the form of a monopoly.”

Religion is a key differentiator on Issue 3. Voters who identified as born-again Christians are most strongly opposed to Issue 3— 57.2 percent oppose the ballot measure, compared with 46.4 percent of Protestants and 41.7 percent of Catholics.

Age also differentiates opinions on Issue 3. Likely voters in the 18-24 year old bracket support marijuana legalization at 55.4 percent compared with 44.4 percent in the 55-69 year old bracket.

In terms of race, there are also key differences. Forty-three percent of Whites support the legalization of marijuana, versus 58 percent of African-Americans.

Interestingly, voters’ music preferences matter as well. Fans of hip-hop and classic rock are most supportive of legalization at 66.7 percent and 48.1 percent, respectively. Fans of pop and country music are less supportive at 43.5 percent and 41.5 percent.

“While demographic characteristics clearly play into one’s choice of favorite music, such a choice is also a decision about one’s identity and lifestyle, and can play an independent role in how someone views the world,” said Jackson.

Issue 1 is also on the November ballot. It would end the partisan process for drawing Ohio House and Senate districts and replace it with a bipartisan process. The ballot measure draws strong support among likely voters in November’s election. Fifty-four percent support the referendum, while 13.9 percent oppose it and 32.2 percent are not sure.

Women Candidates, Jewish Candidates, Muslim Candidates and Socialist Candidates

Likely 2016 general election Ohio voters were also asked if they would vote for a qualified woman, Jewish, Muslim or socialist candidate. Respondents were more likely to vote for a qualified woman and least likely to vote for a qualified Socialist candidate. Slightly less than 87 percent said they would vote for a qualified woman candidate, 76 percent said they were vote for a Jewish candidate, 36 percent for a Muslim candidate, and just 31.5 percent for a qualified Socialist.

“That only 31.5 percent of likely 2016 general election voters in Ohio say they would vote for a socialist is bad news for Bernie Sanders,” Jackson said. “On the other hand, while 42 percent say they would not vote for a socialist, 26.5 percent are not sure. Sanders could persuade these undecided voters that being a socialist isn’t such a bad thing, but it would be an uphill climb for Sanders in the general election.”

The BGSU poll explores attitudes on critical issues facing the citizens of Ohio and supports the research interests of the University’s faculty and students.

BGSU Poll: Ohio voters divided on Barack Obama, split on defunding Planned Parenthood


BOWLING GREEN, O.—Ohio voters are divided on their feelings about Barack Obama, with 45.8 percent favorable toward the president and 47.2 percent saying they feel unfavorable toward him. That’s according to a new Bowling Green State University statewide poll of likely voters.

The BGSU Poll, conducted by Zogby Analytics, surveyed 804 likely Ohio voters in the 2016 general election (249 Republican, 306 Democrat, 249 Independent). The poll was conducted Oct. 16 and 17 and the results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

“This indicates that the Democratic Presidential nominee will not be greatly burdened by being linked with President Obama … Likely Ohio general election voters feel ambivalent toward him, which will not be a great hurdle for the eventual Democratic nominee to overcome to win the crucial battleground state,” said Dr. David J. Jackson, professor of political science at BGSU.

As expected, sentiments about the president are clearly differentiated by party, with 78 percent of Democrats favorable, compared with only 13 percent of Republicans.
There is a similar pattern when it comes to job approval of the president. Overall, 48.9 percent approve of the job Mr. Obama is doing as President, while 49.2 percent disapprove. Among Democrats, 78.7 percent approve, versus only 16 percent of Republicans.

On the other hand, a solid majority believes the United States is on the wrong track. Almost 56 percent believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, while only 31.1 percent believe we are on the right track. 

Feelings about Ohio are quite different. In this case, a plurality of 47.7 percent believe things in the Buckeye State are on the right track, while only 31.3 percent believe things in Ohio are on the wrong track. 

“If the eventual Democratic nominee is linked to the overall direction of the country and voters feel that’s going in the wrong direction, that could be a serious challenge,” said Jackson. “The nominee will need to walk the tight rope of keeping the Democratic base happy by aligning with the policies of the Obama Administration, while at the same time distancing him or herself from the negative overall view the electorate holds about the country’s direction.”

Planned Parenthood Funding

Ohio voters are split on defunding Planned Parenthood, which has gained currency among Republicans in Congress. Almost 43 percent support cutting off federal funding, while 48.9 percent oppose ending funding. 

They are not, however, ambivalent about shutting down the federal government in order to force Congress to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Only 24.8 percent favor shutting down the government to defund Planned Parenthood, while 65.8 percent oppose such a shutdown. 

There are definite religious and partisan dimensions to preferences on Planned Parenthood. Voters who consider themselves born-again Christian are most likely to support a cut-off of funding to the organization. Among those identifying as born-again, 67.3 percent favor a funding cut-off, versus 47.9 percent of Catholics and 32.1 percent of Protestants.

In terms of partisanship, 59.2 percent of Republicans favor cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood, versus 28.5 percent of Democrats.

The BGSU poll explores attitudes on critical issues facing the citizens of Ohio and supports the research interests of the University’s faculty and students.

BGSU Poll: Celebrity endorsements may hurt candidates more than they help


BOWLING GREEN, O.—Do endorsements, both traditional ones like newspapers and interest groups, but also non-traditional ones like celebrity endorsements, help or hurt candidates?

A recent poll commissioned by Bowling Green State University and conducted by Zogby Analytics asked 804 likely 2016 general election voters in Ohio if a particular celebrity, interest group, or newspaper endorsed a candidate for President, would it make the voter more likely or less likely to vote for that candidate. The poll was conducted Oct. 16 and 17 and the results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The results are presented below:

Endorser

More Likely

Less Likely

Net (More Likely-Less Likely)

Cleveland Plain Dealer

14.7

8.4

+6.3

New York Times

15.9

13.8

+2.1

United Auto Workers

17.3

15.7

+1.6

George Clooney

12.0

12.9

-0.9

Oprah Winfrey

13.3

18.5

-5.2

National Rifle Association

20.4

25.8

-5.4

Trace Adkins

8.4

16.9

-8.5

Eva Longoria

6.5

18.0

-11.5

Lena Dunham

5.3

17.9

-12.6

Ted Nugent

10.1

23.5

-13.4

Beyoncé

6.4

24.3

-19.9





The only endorsers that would bring a net gain to a Presidential candidate are the Cleveland Plain Dealer, The New York Times, and the UAW. All other endorsers are likely to repel more voters than they attract. This is especially true among celebrity endorsers. Musicians Beyoncé and Ted Nugent and actresses Lena Dunham and Eva Longoria are all “underwater” as celebrity endorsers by double digits, and Oprah Winfrey and country star Trace Adkins don’t do much better.

“Traditionally we have thought of celebrity endorsements in mostly positive terms,” said Dr. David J. Jackson, professor of political science at Bowling Green State University. “But there is a downside, with polarizing celebrities potentially taking away as much electoral support as they bring.”

Should candidates now start avoiding celebrity endorsements rather than courting them?  “Perhaps not, but they should choose their endorsers carefully and deploy them selectively,” Jackson said.

Among all likely voters, country star Trace Adkins is a net drag on a presidential candidate to the tune of almost 9 points. However, among those who say country music is their favorite, this flips to 14.6 percent being more likely to support the candidate and only 7.3 percent being less likely, a net positive of 7.3 points.

While Ted Nugent is a 13.4 point drag overall, among those sympathetic to the Tea Party, 29.4 percent would be positively influenced by Nugent’s endorsement, while about half that (15.3 percent) would be negatively influenced.

Oprah Winfrey is a 5.2 point drain on a candidate among voters overall, among African Americans she is a net positive of 20.7 points. 

“While the celebrities may not help among voters overall, they may help bring out support among key constituencies, and their popularity may help energize a campaign and add to fundraising,” said Jackson.

The BGSU poll explores attitudes on critical issues facing the citizens of Ohio and supports the research interests of the University’s faculty and students.  

 

BGSU Poll: Voters approve of and credit Kasich

BOWLING GREEN, O.—Ohio Governor and GOP presidential candidate John Kasich enjoys a solid job approval rating in the state, where 56 percent of likely voters in the 2016 presidential election approve of the job he is doing as governor, while 34 percent disapprove. This is according to a recent Bowling Green State University poll of 804 likely Ohio voters conducted by Zogby Analytics on October 16 and 17.

The governor’s reputation is likely enhanced by the fact that more Ohioans feel the state is headed in the right direction, rather than the wrong track, which stands in sharp contrast to their sentiments about the country as a whole. Forty-eight percent believe things in Ohio are headed in the right direction, while 31 percent believe things are on the wrong track. Asked the same question about the United States, only 31 percent believe the country is headed in the right direction, while 56 percent believe it is on the wrong track.

Moreover, four in ten voters credit Governor Kasich with the improved economic climate in the state. Asked who deserves the most credit for the economic recovery in Ohio, 40 percent say Governor Kasich while 22 percent say President Barack Obama. Another 16 percent credit them both.

“Governor Kasich’s case for the White House hinges in part on his being the popular governor of a critical swing state, and one who has helped steer Ohio on the path to economic recovery, said Dr. Melissa Miller, associate professor of political science at BGSU. “These numbers suggest it’s not a bad choice of strategy.”

Nevertheless, when the sample is limited to those 277 Ohioans who are likely to vote in the GOP presidential primary in March, Kasich places third with 13 percent of the vote behind billionaire Donald Trump (27 percent) and pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson (22 percent).

“In the presidential race, Governor Kasich appears to be falling victim to the anti-establishment mood felt in Ohio and around the country,” said Miller. “Once the presidential campaign moves to Ohio, things could change markedly,” she continued, “but Kasich and the other seasoned politicians running for the GOP presidential nomination have to make it past Iowa, New Hampshire and the other early primary states first.”

Among the GOP presidential candidates, Kasich was one of only two who enjoy a positive differential in terms of favorability. Kasich’s favorability among Ohio’s likely voters outweighs his unfavorability by 6 percentage points (43.4 percent favorable versus 37.7 percent unfavorable). Only Ben Carson enjoys a similar—but smaller—positive skew (39.9 percent favorable versus 37.2 percent unfavorable). Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Chris Christie all post a favorability deficit among likely Ohio voters. Donald Trump, for instance, is viewed favorably by 36.7 percent and unfavorably by 53.8 percent.

The BGSU Poll included 306 Democrats, 249 Republicans and 249 Independents who self identified as likely to vote in the 2016 presidential election. Proportionally, the partisan composition of the sample mirrors the partisan composition of the 2012 presidential electorate in Ohio based on CNN exit poll results. The BGSU Poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The BGSU Poll explores attitudes on critical issues facing the citizens of Ohio and supports the research interests of the University’s faculty and students.

BGSU Poll: Ohio's GOP Senate seat could become target for Democrats

BOWLING GREEN, O.—New Bowling Green State University poll results from 804 likely Ohio voters suggest that the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Rob Portman since 2010 may be in danger of “flipping” in 2016. Portman’s chief challenger, former Democratic Governor Ted Strickland, remains popular in the state and beats the incumbent senator in a two-way match-up posed to likely voters.

The BGSU Poll was conducted by Zogby Analytics on October 16 and 17.

Asked for whom they would vote in the 2016 U.S. Senate race if the election was held today, 39.2 percent of likely voters chose Strickland, versus 31.3 percent for Portman.

“Certainly much can happen as the Senate race heats up in coming months, but these early poll numbers suggest that Senator Portman faces a real challenge from former Governor Strickland,” said Dr. Melissa Miller, associate professor of political science at BGSU. “Numbers like this mean the Democrats are likely to target Ohio as a possible ‘pick-up’ in the Senate, where Republicans regained a majority in 2014.”

Democrats currently hold 44 seats in the United States Senate; two additional seats are held by independents who caucus with the Democrats. They would need an additional five seats to regain majority status.

Naturally, Democrats in Ohio are more supportive of Strickland, while Republicans are more supportive of Portman. Seventy-two percent of Democrats back Strickland, while 67 percent of Republicans choose Portman.

The results are also differentiated in terms of race, gender, and neighborhood. Whites are evenly divided in the race: 35 percent support Strickland, while 37 percent support Portman. Strickland is the overwhelming favorite among African-Americans, however, who lend him 61 percent of their support versus 11 percent for Portman.

Men are fairly evenly divided on the Senate race: 39 percent support Strickland, while 37 percent support Portman. Women, on the other hand, tend to support Strickland over Portman: 40 percent back Strickland versus 26 percent for Portman.

There is also a clear “neighborhood” dimension to the results. Among likely voters who reside in large cities across the state, a majority (52 percent) choose Strickland in the race, versus 21 percent for Portman. Elsewhere, preferences are less pronounced. Strickland gets 33 to 38 percent of the vote among those who live in small cities, suburbs and rural areas, while Portman gets 32 to 37 percent of the vote across neighborhood types.

Despite his incumbent status, Senator Portman appears to be less well known to Ohio voters than former Governor Strickland, who held office from 2007-11. Asked whether they felt favorably or unfavorably toward Portman, 33 percent said they were not sure or not familiar enough to offer an opinion of the incumbent Senator. The comparable figure for Strickland was 23 percent.

Both candidates are “underwater” in terms of their favorability, with more voters saying they feel unfavorable than favorable toward them. For Portman, 29 percent feel favorable, while 38 percent feel unfavorable. For Strickland, 36 percent feel favorable, while 41 percent feel unfavorable.

“The general distrust of politicians we’ve seen in national polls of late seems to be reflected in Ohio,” said Miller. “There’s plenty of time for both candidates to campaign around the state and boost their favorability, and these numbers suggest each candidate should do so."

Senator Portman’s job approval numbers are a bright spot for the incumbent. Thirty-nine percent of likely voters approve of the way he is doing his job, while 30 percent disapprove and 31 percent were unsure. When the results are limited to only those 556 voters who offered an opinion of the incumbent, 57 percent approved of Portman, while 43 percent disapproved.

The BGSU Poll included 306 Democrats, 249 Republicans and 249 Independents who self identified as likely to vote in the 2016 presidential election. Proportionally, the partisan composition of the sample mirrors the partisan composition of the 2012 presidential electorate in Ohio based on CNN exit poll results. The BGSU Poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The BGSU Poll explores attitudes on critical issues facing the citizens of Ohio and supports the research interests of the University’s faculty and students