A new poll of 626 likely Republican primary voters conducted by Public Policy Polling, and commissioned by the Democratic Governors Association, has brutal implications for Ohio Gov. R. Michael “Mike” DeWine, showing his Favorable/Unfavorable rating six points underwater.
The poll shows Republican primary voters are divided over DeWine’s job performance, with 40 percent approving of the job he is doing and 41 percent disapproving,” wrote Minami Yoshizawa, a PPP polling associate, in her analysis memorandum for the DGA.
“His approval rating when it comes to handling the COVID-19 pandemic is also underwater by four points, 40-44,” she said of the poll that was conducted Jan. 25 and Jan. 26. The poll carries a 3.9 percent margin of error.
“DeWine’s favorability rating is even lower, with 43 percent of voters having an unfavorable opinion of him and 36 percent having a favorable opinion,” she said.
When asked if the primary were to be held that day, DeWine was the choice of 38 percent of respondents, and his main challenger, former congressman James B. “Jim” Renacci, was the choice of 33 percent, with nearly as many, 29 percent, without an opinion.
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Renacci told The Star News Network the PPP poll aligns closely with his own campaign’s poll of 800 Republican primary voters.
“Well, I think the answer to that, is this also relates to the poll we just did that said 51 percent of people will not vote for Mike DeWine – and 35 percent will never vote for Mike DeWine again,” the former congressman said.
“When the question is asked, ‘Would you vote for a conservative-leaning independent candidate?’ and 44 percent say, ‘Yes, of course,’ that relates just to our polling as well,” he said.
“The best thing that I can say is these numbers match up to our numbers,” he said.
“It shows that Mike DeWine does not have the support of the Republican base, and even worse — although we didn’t ask this question — is if he made it through the primary, 35 percent in our poll say they will never vote for him in the primary,” he said. “This shows that 44 percent will vote for an independent leaning conservative, which means that DeWine will lose the general election.”
Renacci, the 2018 GOP nominee for Senate, has a favorable rating of 26 percent and an unfavorable rating of 18 percent, with 55 percent saying they were not sure. “Of these undecided voters, DeWine is underwater in favorability by 26 points, 19 percent to 45 percent,” Yoshizawa said.
The pollster added that as the former congressman becomes better known, it worsens for DeWine.
“Renacci is still relatively unknown among voters, with a majority of likely Republican primary voters unsure if they have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of him,” she said. “If voters who have yet to hold an opinion of Renacci decide they like him, then DeWine’s re-election bid looks slimmer than ever.”
DGA Deputy Communications Director Sam Newton said the poll exposes DeWine’s weakness as a general election candidate.
“Miserable approval ratings — even among Republicans — and intensifying primary attacks are causing significant warning signs for Mike DeWine,” he said.
“No matter which way you look at it, Ohioans are unhappy with the job he’s done as governor,” he said. “Even if DeWine manages to fend off the rebellion his own party has launched against him, he’ll still be stuck with a deeply divided party and terrible approval ratings that come as a direct result of his corrupt, failed leadership.”
Trump still dominates Ohio Republican voters
Perhaps the most damning revelations come out when Trump is put into the mix.
The poll showed that President Donald J. Trump remains popular and influential among Ohio Republicans. Seventy-six percent of respondents have a favorable opinion of the president, and 17 percent have an unfavorable opinion.
According to the poll, if Trump endorsed a candidate running against DeWine in the primary, only 25 percent of likely Ohio Republican primary voters would stick with him, and 55 percent would vote for the Trump-endorsed candidate.
If DeWine won the GOP nomination for governor, only 39 percent of likely RPV would vote for him in the general election. In comparison, 44 percent would vote for an independent conservative candidate running against him.
Ohio Republican Central Committee expected to endorse DeWine at Feb. 18 meeting
Ohio Republican Party Central Committeeman Mark A. Bainbridge told The Star News Network he expected the committee to endorse DeWine, which will give cover to the state party that has already transferred funds to the governor’s campaign.
“We know the numbers because they have to file their numbers with either the Federal Election Commission or with the secretary of state of Ohio,” said Bainbridge. “We know that, for example, the DeWine campaign reports on it, too, so we know they’ve given DeWine, at least I think it’s like, $1.5 million from the party, and he’s not even endorsed.”
Bainbridge, a certified public accountant who retired after three decades as a partner with Ernst & Young, said that party chairman Robert A. Paduchik had taken it upon himself to support the governor’s campaign without authorization from the central committee.
“That is Chairman Paduchik’s goal in life,” Bainbridge said.
“He has been given that job when he took over as chairman to get DeWine endorsed and renominated and reelected, and they’ve given him that kind of money, and he’s not even been endorsed by the committee,” he said.
“They’re not supposed to make expenditures, according to the bylaws, unless it’s authorized, and that’s the word in the bylaw — has to be authorized by the Fiscal Review Committee,” he said. “They ignore all that and just give this money to DeWine.”
Renacci said he has a problem with the central committee taking action before the May 3 primary.
“Look, I’m concerned. I don’t think the state committee is looking at the polling, and the endorsement should not be a foregone conclusion,” he said.
“DeWine can’t win the general election if less than 35 percent of the people will vote for him to be reelected.”
Renacci noted that part of the problem is that at least 15 members of the ORP Central Committee have positions that they owe to DeWine’s patronage.
The central committee must be ready to accept the people’s voice, Renacci said.
After the May 3 primary, Renacci said he wants to sit down with members of the central committee and sort things out. “We are all on the same team, and we are all fighting for the same things.”
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