A year out from Election Day, former Ohio governor Ted Strickland hold a nearly 8-point lead among likely voters over incumbent U.S. Sen. Rob Portman in the 2016 senate race, according to a new poll released Thursday by Bowling Green State University.
Strickland, who faces primary opposition from Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, is widely expected to grab the Ohio Democratic Party nomination to challenge Portman, a Republican.
If the general election were held today, Strickland would capture 39.2 percent compared with 31.3 percent for Portman, pollsters found.
“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 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.”
One-third of voters say they don't know enough about Portman to have an opinion while 23 percent say that of Strickand. More voters view each candidate unfavorably than favorably.
“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."
Zogby Analytics conducted the poll for BGSU on Oct. 16-17. Zogby surveyed 306 Democrats, 249 Republicans, 249 independents. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.