New Independent Poll Finds Ohioans Favor Democrat Richard Cordray for Governor

click to enlarge New Independent Poll Finds Ohioans Favor Democrat Richard Cordray for Governor
Courtesy of Cordray for Ohio
After his victory for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, Richard Cordray has been fighting what many assumed would be an uphill climb to take Governor John Kasich's soon-to-be empty seat against the Republican nomination, Mike DeWine.

However, a new poll released today from the Enquirer/Suffolk University — the first statewide, independent poll since the Ohio primary — showed Cordray leading DeWine in the governor's race, 43 percent to 36 percent among likely voters.

Given that DeWine defeated Cordray for the 2010 Attorney General's seat, the change in tide comes as somewhat of a surprise. Granted, the Ohio of 2010 is a wildly different place than the Ohio of 2018. Obama was still in office, LeBron James had just left for the Miami Heat (further tanking our economy), and Ohio had yet to experience the opioid crisis currently ravaging our communities.

DeWine recently defeated Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor for the nomination 60 percent to 40 percent, and each candidate had spent millions trying to prove they were the more conservative Republican. Cordray, meanwhile, attempted to downplay his history of supporting gun rights, and won the Democratic primary over the ultra progressive and Bernie Sanders-esque Dennis Kucinich.

According to the Equirer/Suffolk University poll, nearly 16 percent of participants hadn't made up their minds, with the rest planning to vote for an alternative candidate. Among undecided voters, Republicans outnumbered Democrats nearly 2-to-1. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

"The poll captured a snapshot of likely voters that should serve as a warning to Republicans," Suffolk pollster David Paleologos said in a press release. "People who opposed President Donald Trump were more excited about the 2018 election than those who support him and the GOP."

Of course, these polls are not perfect, and as USA Today reported, people like Jennifer Duffy, who studies the Ohio governor race for Cook Political Report, are skeptical of the poll's result.

A poll from last month, commissioned by a GOP-leaning lobbying firm, showed DeWine up 6.5 points. "That, to me, sounded like where that race is," Duffy told USA Today, although she acknowledged enthusiasm among Democratic voters.

Only 5 percent of likely voters in the Enquirer/Suffolk poll were unfamiliar with DeWine, Ohio's attorney general and a former U.S. senator. Another 20 percent were undecided about their opinion of him. For Cordray, a former attorney general, 17 percent hadn't heard of him, and 29 percent hadn't formed an opinion about him.

Live callers conducted the poll on June 6-11, reaching 500 likely voters on landlines and cell phones.

The new poll also notes that 49 percent of respondents said they want their November vote to "change the direction President Trump is leading the nation." Only 28 percent said they were voting to support Trump's leadership and 19 percent said their vote didn't have much to do with Trump.

Trump winning Ohio has inspired his critics to take a more active role in the electoral process. Another example the poll highlighted was the enthusiasm and participation from people of color. According to the poll, if the turnout in 2016 had been identical to that indicated in the poll, Hillary Clinton would have won Ohio by 5 points over Trump.

We're sure to see a variety of polls declaring different numbers until November, but it's safe to assume that the gubernatorial race isn't a lock for either candidate, and the future of Ohio may not be as predictable as once believed.