Gov: Blackwell (R) Leads Petro (R) by 7.3% in Bliss Poll; Most Voters Favor Change to Democratic Control
The Akron Buckeye Poll, April 2006, from the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at The University of Akron, has just been released and it deserves careful study. In broad terms, the lead of Secretary of State Ken Blackwell (R-Cincinnati) over Attorney General Jim Petro (R-Rocky River) in the Republican gubernatorial primary is 39.3% to 32.0%, leaving 28.7% undecided, with a 5% margin of error. This 7.3% lead is somewhat narrower than the 11% lead for Blackwell in the recent Columbus Dispatch poll.
Democratic front-runner Rep. Ted Strickland (D-Lisbon), enjoying a huge 39.8% advantage over former State Rep. Bryan Flannery (D) in the Democratic primary according to the Bliss poll, leads Blackwell by 37.9% to 32.8% with 29.0% undecided, and Petro by 32.0% to 28.3% with 39.7% undecided, in general election trial heats. These leads of 5.1% and 3.7%, respectively, are less than the 10% and 13% leads for Strickland in the recent Rasmussen poll, and it is interesting that relative strength of Blackwell and Petro against Strickland is reversed. It is also striking that the proportion of undecided voters is much greater in the Strickland/Petro matchup than in the Strickland/Blackwell matchup.
Strickland's lead over the Republican candidates is buttressed by the Bliss poll's finding that 59.0% want the Democrats to take control of state government, 33.6 percent want the Republicans to remain in control, and only 7.4 percent were undecided. Among independents, the desire for change is even stronger: 62% want the Democrats to take over from the Republicans. In addition, the poll finds that 64 percent of the respondents believe the state is on the “wrong track” and just 36 percent believe it is on the “right track,” and the economy in particular is seen as on the “wrong track” by a 70% to 30% margin.
Although the desire for change is strong, it appears to be rooted more in disapproval for the Republican's performance than admiration for the Democrats' ideas or personnel. Among those who favor Democratic control, 58% said it is because “The Republicans have done a poor job and deserve to be replaced”, 27% because “The Democrats have better ideas and policies than the Republicans”, and 15% because “The Democrats have the best qualified candidates.”
In other findings, the poll indicates:
* 42% say public corruption is a "serious problem," 47% say it is "somewhat of a problem," and 11% say it is "not a serious problem."
* Only 15% had heard or read about the Tax and Expenditure Limitation (TEL) amendment promoted by Blackwell, and of those 39.2% favor it, 25.4% oppose it, and 35.4 are undecided. However, 77% support the idea of a spending limitation in principle.
* 51.9% have a favorable view of "religious groups that seek to restore traditional morality to Ohio Government," with 26.2% unfavorable and 21.9% without opinion, while only 31.8% have a favorable view of "political groups that seek to keep religion and traditional morality out of politics," with 47.6% unfavorable and 20.6% without opinion. This last part is very unfairly worded because it equates religion with morality, so that supporting the separation of church and state becomes opposing morality.