A new Suffolk University/Cincinnati Enquirer poll shows Democrat Richard Cordray up by six points over Republican Mike DeWine in the Ohio gubernatorial race with 26 days left before Election Day.
This poll comes just a day after another poll by Baldwin-Wallace University showed DeWine three points up over Cordray.
Obviously, both polls can’t be accurate.
So which one is more reflective of the actual sentiments of Ohio voters?
It’s all in the math, and the assumptions pollsters make about turnout, say Republican operatives who are familiar with the state.
The Suffolk poll is notorious for over-sampling Democrat voters, they say. And that goes back to the presidential election of 2016, when it predicted Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by six points in Ohio. Trump beat her by eight points.
In fact, the clues to the Suffolk bias are hidden in plain view in The Enquirer article. It states about the poll:
It showed an electorate more Democratic than the one that voted in 2016; If the voters surveyed had decided the 2016 election, Ohio would have gone to Hillary Clinton by 6 points instead of to Donald Trump by 8.”
This clearly didn’t happen, and the oversampling of Democrats in this poll proves that it’s problematic, said Mandi Merritt, spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee.
“Ohio Republicans know what’s at stake in this midterm election — higher wages, lower taxes, and record unemployment lows,” she told The Ohio Star. “Voters have a clear choice between Republicans’ resume of results, or Democrats’ continued resist-and-obstruct message. Strong Republican leadership is working for Ohio, and Republicans are ready to turn out in droves in order to keep that great progress going.”
Leslie Shedd, the senior communications adviser for Congressman Jim Renacci (R-OH16), who is running against Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) for the U.S. Senate, echoed those concerns about the Suffolk poll.
“Once again, they have drastically over-sampled Democrats,” Shedd told The Star in an email. “They included more Democrats than Republicans, even though there are approximately 400,000 more Republicans [registered] in Ohio than Democrats.
The voters they included heavily favored Hillary Clinton. In fact, if this really were the electorate in 2016, Hillary Clinton would have won by 6 points – but she lost by 8 points.
“A 14-point swing in the electorate would be unprecedented,” she said.
Looking at the numbers, it appears as though Suffolk oversampled the southeastern area of Ohio and undersampled the Toledo area to the north.
“I also believe they under-sampled Cincinnati,” Shedd said.
Shedd believes several of these polls use questionable methodology, including Suffolk. Here are some things to consider:
- In 2004, Bush won Ohio 50.8-48.7 percent. In 2006, considered a huge wave election year for Democrats, Brown won 56.2-43.9 percent. That is only a 7-point pickup for Democrats.
- In 2008, also considered a wave election year for Democrats, Obama won 51.5-46.9 percent – an almost 5-point drop for Democrats and a 3-point pickup for Republicans. Presidential election years are usually better for Democrats than Republicans.
- The Suffolk poll also assumed a 17 percent African-American turnout. 2008 and 2012 had some of the highest African-American turnout in history — 11 percent in 2008 and 15 percent in 2012. It’s completely unrealistic to think we would see a higher African American turnout than we saw in 2012.
- It’s also important to note that several of these same polling companies were wrong about Ohio in 2016. Quinnipiac Ohio had Trump losing 45-49 in August 2016; he won 51.6-43.5, a difference of more than 6 points.
- Marist Ohio had Trump tied 39-39 in July 2016; he won 51.6-43.5, a difference of more than 12 points.
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Anthony Accardi is a writer and reporter for The Ohio Star.