Just two months ago, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) looked vulnerable to defeat heading into 2012. But now, amid a state-level showdown over union rights that has energized voters and sent Republican Gov. John Kasich’s approval rating into a tailspin, a new PPP poll of registered voters finds Brown suddenly dominating a slate of potential Republican challengers.
In December, polls showed Brown in a precarious position, barely leading relatively unknown Republicans in hypothetical 2012 contests. But in the latest survey, Brown has suddenly shot ahead of his GOP rivals, such that he now leads each of them by double-digit margins; his lead over one challenger exploded from a miniscule 2 points in December to 19 in the latest poll.
In the latest poll, Brown led Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor 49% to 30%, a drastic change from December when he led 40% to 38%. Similarly, his lead over Secretary of State Jon Husted grew from a five-point margin to a robust 15-point margin now, with Brown on top 49% to 34%. And Rep. Jim Jordan, who trailed by 10 points in December, now trails by 19, 49% to 30%.
The only Republican to tie Brown in the December survey, Attorney General Mike DeWine, has since said he won’t run for Senate, and was thus not included in the latest poll.
The biggest change comes with independent voters suddenly flocking to Brown. In the last poll, Brown and Taylor split independent support fairly evenly. But in the latest survey, that same demographic broke for Brown by a huge 18-point margin.
That turnaround is stunning over such a short period of time, and appears to correlate to a staggering drop-off in support for Kasich over the same period. Kasich’s first few months in office were marked by several mini scandals, topped off with his forecful push to cut collective bargaining rights for the state’s public employees. As a result, his approval rating has sunk to 35% in the latest PPP poll, with over half of all voters (54%) saying they disapprove of his job performance.
Even worse for Kasich, voters said if they could do the 2012 gubernatorial election over again, they’d have voted to keep Gov. Ted Strickland — by a 15-point margin.
While Brown’s sudden surge can’t be directly pegged to voters ire with Kasich, the turnaround is certainly the result of a major shift in Ohio’s political landscape — Brown’s approval rating remains unchanged since December (40%) suggesting that his sudden support is independent of anything he has done.
The PPP poll was conducted March 10-13 among 559 registered voters. It has a margin of error of 4.1%.