Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

The Tri-State Q-Poll Shows Electorate Optimism

In Polling on February 11, 2015 at 11:23 am

Quinnipiac University released the results of a three-state poll, covering the critically important presidential domains of Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio.

The most interesting finding is how optimistic the people comprising the sampling cells are, particularly in Florida and Ohio. Such a tone is much different from what has been the norm for the past nine years.

All three polls were conducted during the Jan. 22 – Feb. 1 time period.

Pennsylvania

The Q-Poll surveyed 881 Pennsylvania registered voters, and tested Sen. Pat Toomey (R) as he begins his quest for a second term. At this point former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA-7), who lost to Toomey 49-51 percent in the 2010 Senate race, is the only announced major Democratic contender.

The results show Toomey residing in better re-election position than depicted in other early surveys. According to Quinnipiac, the senator has a job approval index of 43:25 percent positive to negative. Fellow Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. (D) registered a similar 40:24 percent favorability ratio. On the ballot test, Toomey scores a healthy 45-35 percent advantage over Sestak.

Though the Pennsylvania state economy has been slow to rebound and expand, this survey suggests the public’s outlook is improving. Forty-six percent describe the economy as either excellent (one percent) or good (45 percent) versus 52 percent who say it is about the same (40 percent) or poor (12 percent). Based upon historical reference since 2008, these are some of the most optimistic economic responses recorded for a Pennsylvania polling sample.

Florida

Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R) presidential ambitions are attracting a great deal of attention lately, especially when he confirms that he won’t simultaneously run for both the presidency and his US Senate seat.

The Q-Poll produces relatively good numbers for Rubio. In this study of 936 Florida registered voters, the senator posts a 47:35 percent favorability index, similar to his Sunshine State colleague, Sen. Bill Nelson (D), who registers 43:26 percent. By a margin of 44-37 percent, the respondents say Sen. Rubio deserves re-election. Since he has no clear opponent the ballot test question was not asked.

Here, the economic outlook numbers are extremely good. Fifty-nine percent say the Florida economy is either excellent (six percent) or good (53 percent), compared with 38 percent who say it is “not so good” (30 percent), or poor (eight percent). By a whopping margin of 67-31 percent, the respondents say they are very (12 percent), or somewhat (55 percent), satisfied “with the way things are going in Florida.” Those who are somewhat or very dissatisfied number 21 and 10 percent, respectively.

Forty-seven percent believe the Florida economy will improve, versus only nine percent who think it will get worse. Forty-two percent say it will remain about the same.

Ohio

Surprisingly, even though Ohio sits directly adjacent to Pennsylvania, it was the Florida Q-Poll sampling group that offered responses almost identical with those from the Buckeye State. At first glance, one would have expected Ohio and Pennsylvania respondents to be much closer in attitude.

The Ohio group (943 registered voters) is just as optimistic as the Florida sample cell. Gov. John Kasich’s (R) job approval numbers are very strong, 55:30 percent favorable to unfavorable, and the positive outlook results are even better. Almost three-quarters of the group (72 percent) feel optimistic about how public affairs are being handled in Ohio; 12 percent very satisfied, and 60 percent somewhat satisfied. This compares to 20 percent who feel somewhat dissatisfied, while only eight percent responded very dissatisfied. Forty-nine percent said they believe the Ohio economy is getting better, while nine percent said it is worsening. Forty percent believe there has been little change.

Sen. Rob Portman (R) who, at the beginning of the year, announced simultaneously that he would seek re-election but not run for president, also fares relatively well in his personal ratings. Like the situation in Florida, no major Democratic candidate has yet committed to challenging Portman so the Ohio Q-Poll did not include a ballot test.

Portman’s job approval rating is 40:21 percent positive to negative. As in the other two states, the Republican incumbent compares favorably with his Democratic colleague, in this case Ohio’s senior senator, Sherrod Brown (45:27 percent). By a margin of 37-28 percent, the group believes Sen. Portman deserves re-election.

Conclusion

The tri-state survey positions the three first-term Republican senators, all in either swing or more decidedly Democratic states, to be in good position as they prepare for what should be strongly competitive re-election campaigns. We will be hearing a great deal from each of these three places as the 2016 election cycle begins to unfold.

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