Both Democrats lead in new Ohio Senate poll

A poll says Lee Fisher or Jennifer Brunner would beat the GOP's Rob Portman, giving the Democrats a Senate pickup

Published March 31, 2010 3:32PM (EDT)

Ohio Democrats have been slow to get engaged in the Senate primary between Lee Fisher and Jennifer Brunner to pick their party's nominee for the November election, as I reported this morning on Salon. But a new poll out Wednesday shows either one of them would beat Republican Rob Portman for the seat. Maybe that'll wake the race up a bit?

The Quinnipiac University poll found the two Democrats had each made gains from a survey last month. Fisher, the lieutenant governor who appears to be ahead in the primary race, was beating Portman 41-37. Brunner, the secretary of state, beat Portman 38-37. Both trailed Portman in February. Democrats think Portman, who ran the White House budget office and served as U.S. trade representative under George W. Bush, should be vulnerable in a campaign focused on the lousy economy.

Part of the turnaround in Fisher and Brunner's ratings in the matchup may have something to do with President Obama's approval rating. In February, 52 percent of Ohioans rated Obama negatively, compared to 44 percent who gave him a positive approval rating. In the new poll, his positive approval rating climbed to 47 percent, and the negative rating fell to 48 percent. That's still not a great result for him, but it's better than it had been.

The survey looked at registered voters from March 23-29, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percent. And as with any polls this far from November, it's not worth much as an actual predictor. But as with a few other polls late, the trend in this one is better for Democrats. 

By Mike Madden

Mike Madden is Salon's Washington correspondent. A complete listing of his articles is here. Follow him on Twitter here.

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