Triple Play in the Buckeye State

Those of you old enough to remember the 1970’s Cincinnati Reds know that they earned the nickname of The Big Red Machine. Now, many pundits want us to believe that the State of Ohio will become a political big red machine this fall when the Buckeyes choose whether to retain “Blue Dog” members of Congress who were swept into victory in the Obama tsunami of 2008. We looked at three key Ohio districts in our Quick-Shot Series of polls:

CD 1-Victory in the Burbs:
Incumbent Steve Driehaus (D) vs. Steve Chabot (R)

Ohio CD 1 provides one of the more intriguing races in the state. This district encompasses part of Cincinnati and some western and northern suburbs. Republican Challenger Steve Chabot was a seven-term incumbent who had never tracked well in the city but was always able to pull out victories in the burbs. But 2008 was a different story, as Barack Obama brought out more city voters and Independent suburbanites, and Steve Driehaus won by a 52-48 margin. But this won’t necessary be a one-and-done term for Driehaus. As a former Minority Whip for the Ohio House, Driehaus is a fiscal conservative , is fairly moderate on many key issues and by all accounts a good campaigner. Still, Chabot is running roughly even in fund raising and is no political neophyte. We would urge you to read the following poll results carefully and check back with us to see if it tightens up…as we suspect it will.

Ohio CD 1

Date of Poll: 8/4/2010
Participants: 1,001 registered voters
Margin of Error: ±3.10%
(D) Steve Driehaus38.70%85.13%5.57%26.67%
(R) Steve Chabot50.77%7.59%90.40%53.33%

CD 12-The Tiberi Shuffle:
Incumbent Patrick Tiberi (R) vs. Paula Brooks (D)

Are Independent voters adopting a throw-the-bums-out attitude, or turning to the political right? This series of Quick-Shot Polls has been measuring Independents’ views of a number of Democratic incumbents, but what about office holders from the GOP?

To test that out, we turned to Ohio CD 12, where, in 2008, Republican incumbent Patrick Tiberi defended the seat he’s occupied since 2000 in a district that contains most of Columbus’ African-American population. However, most agree that Tiberi’s opponent in 2008 was weak, and Ohio observers feel that  Paula Brooks will present a much more aggressive challenge for him. Plus, many believe that Congress’ microscopic approval rating will help shuffle Tiberi out of office.

But what do voters think?

Ohio CD 12

Date of Poll: 8/4/2010
Participants: 995 registered voters
Margin of Error: ±3.11%
(R) Patrick Tiberi51.10%15.95%85.08%45.17%
(D) Paula Brooks34.42%70.76%7.46%30.34%

In this district, Independents are–at the moment–clearly looking at Republican Tiberi as their choice. Obviously, one poll in a single district should never be used as proof of a national trend…and you’ll see in the coming days why. But for now, Congressman Tiberi is enjoying a comfortable lead thanks in part to his Independent backers.

CD 15-Kilroy was here:
Incumbent Mary Jo Kilroy (D) vs. Steve Stivers (R)

CD 15 covers the part of Columbus with The Ohio State University (my Buckeye friends would fry me if I left the “The” out of the title) and promises to be one helluva contest come November. Democrat Incumbent Mary Jo Kilroy eked out a victory in 2008 over Republican Steve Stivers by less than a percentage point in a five-way race, and the two are are the top of the fight card again this year.

Although Stivers is certainly counting on gaining ground from the diminished popularity of President Obama, his background as a bank lobbyist was easy pickings last time…and banks continue to be the target of concern for many today. But multiple reports hint that Kilroy lacks some fundamental political skills (there are some YouTube deer-in-the-headlights moments hanging out there) and hasn’t set the world on fire in her first term. This one was nasty in 2008, and most believe that matters will escalate this summer.

Let’s see where each stands with voters:

Ohio CD 15

Date of Poll: 8/4/2010
Participants: 998 registered voters
Margin of Error: ±3.10%
(D) Mary Jo Kilroy40.64%76.80%6.67%31.68%
(R) Steve Stivers46.33%11.73%87.27%44.27%