A new poll from Public Policy Polling and Innovation Ohio shows that Ohio is set to return to its traditional status as a battleground state in 2020.
A memo on the results and the cross tabs can be found on Innovation Ohio’s website.
After winning the state by 8 points in 2016, the PPP survey finds President Trump trailing a generic Democratic 47-48% and an underwater 47-51% favorable/unfavorable rating. Given that state’s swing from 2012 to 2016, it is especially notable that President Trump trails a generic Democrat 37-51% with independent voters.
“As Democrats gather to debate in Ohio, these results show that Ohio will once again be a battleground in 2020, and any Democrat would be foolish to write off our state,” said Innovation Ohio President Janetta King. “Given his unpopularity with Ohio voters, it is clear that President Trump’s failures and broken promises are catching up with him in the state.”
“Ohio is a must-win state for President Trump. His poor numbers in this poll help to explain his early spending on TV and digital ads here,” King continued.
The poll also tested President Trump against five Democratic candidates; he failed to top 47% against any of them. This survey comes on the heels of similar results from Emerson Polling.
It gets somewhat worse for Trump in Ohio too.
Trump trails a generic Democrat 48-47 for reelection in the state. Particularly troubling for him is a 51-37 deficit with independent voters. Suburban areas have tended to be a swing vote in Ohio elections but- matching the national trends- they now lean toward voting Democratic by a 53-40 margin over Trump next year. Trump doesn’t get more than 47% against any named Democratic opponent – he trails Joe Biden 48-46, and he’s tied with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren at 47% each. Trump only has leads against two of the lesser-known Democratic candidates: he leads both Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg 47-43 with 10% of voters undecided in those particular matchups.
Ohio’s return to swing state status is a function of Trump’s unpopularity in the state. Only 47% of voters have a favorable opinion of him, to 51% with a negative one. The ratio is even worse for Trump when it comes to voters who have strong feelings about him- just 38% say they have a ‘very favorable’ opinion of him, to 45% who have a ‘very unfavorable’ opinion of him.
It makes sense that Ohio is closely divided when it comes to next year’s election. Right now FiveThirtyEight’s national poll tracker finds Trump to have a 42/54 approval split. That -12 net standing represents a 10 point net drop for him compared to election day 2016 when he lost the popular vote by 2 points. Given Trump’s 8 point victory in Ohio last time, a similar 10 point drop in Ohio to what he’s seen nationally would put him slightly underwater with voters in the state as our new poll finds.
Ohioans narrowly support an impeachment inquiry into Trump, 49/47. These numbers are meaningful not just for Ohio but for the country as a whole, because it shows that even in states that voted pretty strongly for him last time there is still significant support for moving forward with the impeachment process, suggesting there’s not a lot of political liability for Democrats in doing so. There is majority support for impeachment with both pivotal independent voters (54/41) and suburban voters (57/40).
That overwhelming hole Trump's in among suburban voters spells bad, bad news for Ohio Republicans. I don't expect the Dems to get their act together to the point of winning the state legislature back, but it would be nice if they could at least stop the GOP from having a supermajority in the State House and Senate.
The real story though is age. Voters under 45 favor the Democrat by large margins, but over 45 favor Trump by ten. If voters under 45 turn out, my generation and younger, the Dems win Ohio and almost certainly the White House. If the voter turnout model is 2018, then yes, Trump's going to lose the Buckeye State.
But if it's 2016 or god forbid, 2014, he's going to win here, barely (if 2016) and by 8-10 points again (if 2014). We'll see who shows up after another 12 months of brutal disinformation on social media, possibly a war or two, maybe a recession, and an impeachment.