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Government and Politics




New poll shows good news for Obama, Brown
Latest Quinnipiac University Poll shows President Obama leading Republican Challenger Mitt Romney 50 to 44 percent in Ohio
by WKSU's STATEHOUSE CORRESPONDENT JO INGLES
This story is part of a special series.


Reporter
Jo Ingles
 
In The Region:
The latest Quinnipiac University Poll shows President Obama leading Republican Challenger Mitt Romney 50 to 44 percent in Ohio. This marks the first time this year that the President has hit the 50 percent mark. And in an interview with Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles, Political Science Professor John Green explains why that's important.
New poll shows good news for Obama, Brown

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Green: Incumbents have a very hard time getting elected if they’re numbers are below 50 percent. So a lot of analysts believe the 50 percent mark is a key bellweather for how well incumbents do whether it’s a president or senator or so forth. Assuming these numbers are affirmed, this is good news for the Obama campaign because they’ve reached, at least for the moment, that threshold which increases the likelihood of winning.

Ingles: We are starting see some movement by independents in this poll. Some are going for President Obama. Some are going for Romney. Is that indicative of where they’ll be in the fall or does that mean anything at all at this point?

Green: Well you know early in the campaign you have more undecided people among independents. Those numbers tend to go down as you get into the fall and closer to Election Day. So it wouldn’t be that surprising that, at this point, given the vast amount of advertising and campaigning in Ohio that the independents would begin that process of picking their candidates. Some will go Republican, others will go to Democratic candidate. But it’s always possible they will change their minds along the way. As people start to make up their minds, new information might influence them but this is not that surprising that the Independents are beginning to shift to one party or another.

Ingles: Is a 6 percent lead at this point telling of things to come?

Green: It’s very difficult to predict election results based on polls at this point because so much can happen in politics between the early polls and the actual Election Day. So I think the 6 percent lead that the Quinnipiac Poll has is significant. It probably shows that President Obama has a bit of an advantage in Ohio. But based on past elections, you could predict the final result from this because it wouldn’t take a shift in very many voters for Governor Romney to catch up or for President Obama to get even farther ahead in the polls. This gives us a snapshot of where the race is right now but a lot will happen between now and Election Day.

Ingles: When you look at President Obama and Mitt Romney as far as people talking about whether they’ve heard enough to form an opinion on them….in the case of Mitt Romney, 15 percent of voters say they haven’t heard enough to form an opinion of him. In the case of President Obama, 2 percent say they haven’t heard enough. Does that surprise you and is that a number we should be looking at?

Green: Well compared to many elections, those numbers are low. A lot of people think they know a lot about these candidates….enough for them to be able to make a decision. Now some of those people who think they have enough information may not have made their decisions yet. They may be weighing different types of information in favor of one candidate or another. I guess it’s not surprising that more people feel they need additional information about Mitt Romney. He’s not as well known. President Obama is of course the president of the United States and he was elected once so people are likely to know more about him. This gives you an idea how the race is. You’ve got basically one sixth of the voters who say they don’t have enough information about the challenger to make a decision about him. That suggests that there is some room for those poll numbers to change one way or another.

John Green, the Director of the Bliss Institute at the University of Akron, says polls must be taken over time to get a real sense of voter's opinions.
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