New poll: Ohio’s U.S. Senate race a tie, may hold balance of power

A new poll shows indicates if former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland faces Sen. Rob Portman in November, it’s going to be a barn-burner.

The Quinnipiac University Poll has Strickland leading by two points – 44 to 42 percent in a November general election matchup.

The race, said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, is “a statistical tie.”

“If the contest remains this close, the outcome of the presidential race in Ohio could make the difference in the Senate contest,” he said.

Separately, an online poll taken by Baldwin Wallace University gave Portman a 4-point lead over Strickland, beating him in a potential matchup 44 percent to 40 percent.

Portman campaign manager Corry Bliss said the Quinnipiac poll indicates that “support for Rob Portman continues to grow across Ohio.”

Said David Bergstein, Strickland’s campaign spokesman: “this poll is another clear sign that Ted’s message of standing up for the middle class is resonating with Ohioans at every level.”

The Ohio race is setting up to be one of the most crucial in the nation as 34 Senate seats are up in November. Twenty-four of those are held by Republicans and Democrats are looking to gain four or five seats to take control.

The Quinnipiac University Poll also found that former Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld is still a virtual unknown with just weeks before the March 15 Democratic primary, with 85 percent of voters polled saying they don’t know enough about him to form an opinion. In April of last year, 89 percent of voters polled said they didn’t know enough about him to form an opinion.

The newest Quinnipiac poll shows Portman beating Sittenfeld by 19 points in a general election matchup.

“What the poll shows is large number of Ohio voters still don’t know who P.G. is, but the good news is that’s readily fixable,” said Sittenfeld spokesman Dale Butland. “Which is exactly what television ads are for and which is why we’ll be putting ours on the air next week and staying on air through the election.”

Portman has a 42 to 18 percent favorability rating while Strickland gets 42 percent favorable to 31 percent unfavorable among all voters. That’s an improvement for Portman and a slip for Strickland; in April, Portman had a 38 to 18 favorability rating and Strickland had a 49 to 29 percent favorability rating.

Among Democrats only, Strickland has a 67 percent approval rating, while Sittenfeld’s is 15 percent.

From Feb. 16 through 20, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,539 Ohio registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points. Live interviewers call land lines and cell phones.

The Quinnipiac University Poll conducts public opinion surveys in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Iowa, Colorado and the nation as a public service and for research.

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