Almost unnoticed on the day of last week’s Democratic debate in Westerville was the release of a new Battleground Poll, a bipartisan survey by Republican strategist Ed Goeas of the Tarrance Group and Democrat Celinda Lake of Lake Research Partners.
The pollsters told an Otterbein University audience that Trump loses to a generic Democrat in their survey, his approval ratings are negative overall and on almost every individual topic, and 51% of those surveyed want him impeached.
But Lake warned her fellow Democrats that danger lurks. Voters give Trump good marks for the economy and jobs.
“Until Democrats can offer the American public a bold economic plan and vision that convincingly addresses their pessimism, anxiety and real material insecurity, Trump will remain more competitive than he has a right to be,” she said.
And, like Trump, the top Democratic presidential candidates are all “underwater” — pollster parlance for when disapproval exceeds approval.
“If this continues to develop, as was the case in the 2016 presidential election, these ‘dislike both’ voters will be the swing vote again in the 2020 presidential election, keeping the outcome of the election in question until the final days of the campaign,” Goeas said.
“This presidential campaign will be focused by both candidates on drawing sharp contrasts and trying to paint their opponent as an unacceptable choice.”
In other words, another glut of negative campaign ads is likely headed our way next year.
Noting that the renewed FBI probe of Hillary Clinton in late October 2016 swung the election to Trump, Goeas said the question for next year will be, “Who gets the focus of the negative blast?”
He noted an intense following for the impeachment proceedings against Trump, with 94% paying attention. “I’ve never seen anything that high,” he remarked.
That’s contributed to an especially strong interest already in the 2020 election more than a year away.
“Voters are engaged and energized at levels not normally seen until fall of a contentious election year,” Goeas said.
If Ronna McDaniel is revoking the Republican card of Rob Portman, she’s not letting on.
The chairwoman of the Republican National Committee spoke last week at a Women for Trump event in Powell prior to Tuesday’s debate.
Dispatch Reporter Randy Ludlow was curious about McDaniel’s response to the senator’s off-the-talking-points assessment of Trump’s call to the Ukranian president in which a “favor” was sought.
“The president should not have raised the Biden issue on that call, period. It’s not appropriate for a president to engage a foreign government in an investigation of a political opponent,” Portman told The Dispatch.
McDaniel was asked whether Portman was mistaken in his remarks. “The president did nothing that was impeachable. What the Democrats are doing is shameful. … This is just a political vendetta,” she said, ducking the question.
Ludlow’s follow-up question — the same as the first — - went unanswered.
The Ohio Republican Party also has refused comment on Portman’s remarks.
Who do you suppose got front-row tickets in the Rike Center last week for the Democratic presidential debate?
The heads of the national and Ohio Democratic parties? Yep, Tom Perez and David Pepper were side-by-side.
President of host Otterbein University? Sure enough, John L. Comerford had a good view.
Among the others: former Gov. Ted Strickland and his wife, Frances; 2018 gubernatorial candidate and Elizabeth Warren-backer Richard Cordray and wife, Peggy; Congresswoman Joyce Beatty and husband, Otto; and Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes. Also having plenty of leg room were a bunch of Democratic mayors: Andrew J. Ginther of Columbus, John Cranley of Cincinnati, Wade Kapszukiewicz of Toledo and Nan Whaley of Dayton.
Darrel Rowland covers politics for The Columbus Dispatch. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or @darreldrowland