Thursday, July 08, 2010

Ohio 12: Digging Deeper into Brooks’ poll

There is entirely too much being made of incumbents polling under 50%, and newly-released survey in Ohio’s 12th District is a great example.

According to a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll conducted a month ago (June 2-6) for Franklin County Commissioner Paula Brooks (D), Cong. Pat Tiberi (R) held a 48%-36% lead in the initial general election ballot test. Libertarian candidate Travis Irvine garnered 10%.

Democrats trumpeted the results as a partial victory because the incumbent was below 50%, with the Greenberg Quinlan Rosner release on the race adding that Brooks was in a “strong position to defeat Pat Tiberi” in the contest.

But the Democratic excitement is puzzling because the poll reveals a difficult path for Brooks. Even if she were to get all of the undecided vote (6%) in the survey, she would still lose the race by 6 points.

The release includes a second ballot test “once voters hear positive information about both candidates,”’ but it doesn’t include that information. Just as important, it doesn’t include a ballot test after voters hear negative information about both candidates, which would more closely resemble the actual environment of a campaign.

Democrats believe Irvine is eating into Tiberi’s vote because he’s a Libertarian, but that’s not a certainty, and it’s unlikely he gets 10% on Election Day.

Through April 14, Irvine hadn’t filed with the FEC, meaning he hadn’t raised or spent $5,000 for his campaign. In 2008, Libertarian Steven Linnabary received 3% of the vote.

Irvine is a 26-year old filmmaker who grew up in the 12th District, but has spent most of his adult life working elsewhere, including for Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) for a few months in Washington, D.C. In 2007, Irvine finished sixth (with 4.6%) in the race for mayor of Bexley, Ohio (population 13,000).

Ideologically, Irvine is running as a fiscally conservative and socially liberal candidate who is in favor of decriminalization and legalization of marijuana and lowering the drinking age to 18. He also opposes government bans on gay marriage. In addition, he believes “the Federal Government should not be in charge of national public services such as Medicare and Social Security.”

Brooks is a serious and appealing candidate, and Tiberi can’t take anything for granted. But this poll seems to exaggerate Brooks’ current threat to Tiberi, and it does little to encourage us to change our current Republican Favored rating of this contest.

5:01pm Update: Earlier today (and before the Brooks release), the Tiberi campaign released their own survey. The June 27-29 Public Opinion Strategies poll showed the congressman leading Brooks 53%-28% and Irvine at 5%. Tiberi’s personal rating was also good in the poll (54% favorable/24% unfavorable). In comparison, Brooks was at 14% favorable/4% unfavorable.