Ohioans are leaning Democratic ahead of the 2020 elections, according to a poll released this week. But the margin is slim and the state still could swing conservative before Election Day.
The poll, administered by Baldwin Wallace University, looked at four Midwestern states – Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – for opinions on the Trump Administration and issues including immigration, the economy and environment.
Roughly 44 percent of the more than 1,000 Ohioans polled said they would vote for the Democratic nominee if the 2020 election were held that day. That’s compared to about 39 percent of respondents in favor of Trump and 16 percent undecided.
But with a margin of error of +/-3 percent, Trump and the eventual Democratic nominee, whomever it may be, are nearly on equal footing.
“Ohio is probably the closest state of the four to be leaning toward Trump,” said Lauren Copeland, associate director of the Baldwin Wallace Community Research Institute.
The poll and its wording came out of the 2018 midterm results, Copeland said. The goal was to assess residents' current political opinions in comparison to other similar Midwest states.
“We were interested in comparing Ohio to these other battleground states, all of which voted for Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2016,” Copeland said.
An online panel aggregator selected participants from among self-identified registered voters with the help of U.S. Census data, including education, age, gender and urban or rural region considerations. Participants completed the survey online using an individualized link.
The samples are meant to represent the population of the states, Copeland said, though they don’t necessarily represent the groups most likely to show up at the polls on Election Day.
“We had trouble identifying a known population which we could apply to the sample, so we didn’t do that this time around,” Copeland said.
About 74 percent of Ohio respondents said they were “very motivated” to vote in the next election.
The survey also assessed confidence in the Trump Administration and approval ratings for each of the Democratic candidates. It found a wide gender gap overall in approval for President Trump, with men more consistently supportive. But that difference isn’t as strong in Ohio, Copeland said.
“In these other states, we see a gender gap with women having much less favorable attitudes about the Trump Administration’s policies on various issues,” Copeland said. “We don’t see that as much in Ohio.”
About 41 percent of Ohio men polled say they’re “almost certain to vote against Donald Trump,” regardless of who becomes the Democratic nominee. That’s compared to more than 47 percent of women who gave the same response. And the divide between men and women in other states where the poll was conducted ranged from 10 to 12 percentage points.
The margin of error for gender- and party-specific analysis is closer to 5 percent, Copeland said. That puts Ohio’s voter gender gap well within the poll’s margin of error.
Thirty-one percent of Ohioans said the economy was the top issue for them going into the 2020 campaign season, followed by health care at about 22 percent and national security at about 22 percent.
Which Way Is Ohio Leaning (So Far)?
The survey also asked participants about their values and beliefs, including general questions about national security, immigration and national identity. Those answers cause some debate over Ohio’s status as a swing state, Copeland said.
“If you look at the rest of the questions on attitudes and beliefs, Ohioans are trending more conservatively than the other three states,” Copeland said.
Just 27 percent of Ohioans polled – the lowest of the four states – a said they “strongly agree” that immigrants are good for the U.S. economy. Ohioans polled were evenly split in their opinions on the current impeachment inquiry against President Trump.
But given the current economy, Copeland said, Trump should be polling better among Midwesterners.
“I think Trump has an easier chance of winning Ohio than the other three states, but he still needs to be on the ground campaigning,” she said.
The poll doesn’t predict what will actually happen on Election Day, Copeland said. It’s a snapshot of current opinions, she said.
“I think a lot is up in the air because the Democratic Party is split into two factions,” Copeland said.
During the survey period, candidates Marianne Williamson and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker both dropped out of the presidential race. They were hidden from remaining respondents, Copeland said.
Baldwin Wallace plans to conduct three more polls before the November election, Copeland said.