Monday, October 03, 2005


Dispatch poll: The good, the (sorta) bad and the ugly

The Dispatch has unveiled the results of two panels of polling questions from a survey done Sept. 22-29. We realize that several others like the UAPA folks and KTinOhio have posted on this, but we thought we put in our two-cents about the results.

First, it’s important to note that the mail poll system the paper used (designed by now-VP and associate publisher Mike Curtin) is notoriously accurate, and therefore we accept the results at face value – with a few caveats described below.

With that out of the way, let’s start with the ugly. The Dispatch had a panel of questions about Gov. Taft and the paper reports that only 15% approve of the job he is doing. That’s, of course, ugly, but not the ugly we’re talking about.

We think the premise behind this set of questions is ugly. Does Ohio need one more poll about how unpopular Bob Taft is? To us, and we think to most Ohioans, this isn’t news and is starting to sicken us in a way. Let’s be clear here – we aren’t complaining about news media “piling on” in regard to Taft’s popularity problems and we have no personal sympathies for Taft, either.

What sickens us about the Dispatch’s questions and a lot of the recent reporting around the demise of Taft support is based on the notion - and reinforces that same notion - that Taft is to blame for “what’s wrong” with Ohio.

Taft, of course, and his current and former staffers rightly deserve much of the grief . But, what about the broader Republican leadership in the Ohio Senate and House over the past 15 years? A real news story would be a poll that asks the public what grade they give these thieves and cretins for the job they have done (for starters) on issues like 1) jobs, 2) primary and secondary education, 3) higher education, 4) health care and 5) property tax relief. That’s the shit that would really get us excited about reading an Ohio paper in the morning! But please no more goddamn polls telling us that Ohioans want Taft to go away and no more polls that seem to suggest that everything will be rosy if we get rid of him.

Now, on to the other panel of questions used by the Dispatch. These had to do with the Issue 1 plus the four Reform Ohio Now amendments. The bad news is that Issue 4 – the one that would clean up the district-drawing system and arguably the most important of the four proposals – is currently losing. The good news is that it is only losing 38-26% and that a near-plurality (36%) is undecided. The other good news is that Issues 2 and 3 have enormous leads and with relatively small undecideds. Issue 5 is also winning, but we’d like to see the 20% undecideds decrease.

Maybe it’s obvious to everyone, but the timing of the poll initially seems problematic because neither the RON campaign nor Ohio First had begun to hit the airwaves with their ads. But we suspect that the Dispatch was fully aware of this. We think that what’s really going on is that the Dispatch, in fact, wanted to conduct a poll before the ad wars started in order to establish a baseline to measure the campaigns in the next five weeks. The Dispatch’s pattern in recent elections in fact has been to conduct a series of polls, one early in the campaign, one mid-way and a few days before election day.

The cross-tabs of this current poll reveal some useful information. With the Democratic vote currently split 35% for – 28% against, and a plurality of 37% undecided it will be extremely important to try to work on the democratic base.

Union members are split 28% for – 39% against and 38% undecided, but we have been told that many union are just now launching their internal education efforts.

But, all in all, the cross-tabs show that there is across-the-board an enormous number of undecideds in every demographic category. The nation’s most important election is still a toss up, and deserves every minute and dime supporters of the RON movement can spare.


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