According to this recent poll
, George Bush's approval rating in Ohio is the lowest of any state that voted for him in 2004. His performance as President is disapproved by 60% of Ohioans and approved by only 37%, a negative spread of 23 points. These numbers are essentially unchanged since January, revealing that the State of the Union speech gave Bush no bounce here at all.
With Republican Governor Bob Taft's approval ratings mired below 20%, and Bush viewed with distaste by nearly two-thirds of Ohioans, it comes as no surprise that this recent poll
shows Sen. Mike DeWine (R) at 44% disapproval and 43% approval, with 12% undecided. This is the first negative spread for DeWine since last August, when he was at 43% disapproval to 42% approval. In the intervening time he had climbed to 48% approval in November but never broke through to majority approval, a critical threshhold for incumbents in re-election races, and has since dropped back down.
While DeWine appears to have a Bush problem, Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon), pictured, has a Hackett problem. Following the abrupt and acrimonous termination of Paul Hackett's Senate campaign, this recent Rasmussen poll
showed that DeWine now leads Brown by nine percentage points, 46% to 37%. In January DeWine was ahead by five points, 45% to 40%, so the Hackett debacle appears to have cost Brown four points.
How deeply has Brown been wounded? Interestingly, the Rasmussen poll indicates that only 18% of Ohio voters followed the story very closely, another 22% followed it somewhat closely, and 23% didn't follow it at all. Overall, 29% said that Hackett was betrayed by party leaders, 15% say he was not, and 55% have no opinion. Among Democrats, 31% say he was betrayed and 24% say he was not. These numbers suggest that the harm to Brown is serious, but not devastating.
In the wake of Hackett's departure from the race, the Toledo Blade reported here
on opposition research prepared by Hackett's staff. Basically, Hackett's staff suggested that Brown would be vulnerable in the general election due to votes he made in the 1990's to cut back on funding for intelligence. The Blade reports on reactions to that story today
. The Ohio Republican Party reacted by touting Brown's votes yesterday in a press release titled "Sherrod Brown's intelligence problem," which said Brown was on a "mission to undermine national security." However, Brown was quick to defend himself. Brown is quoted as saying that he would not change his past votes on intelligence. "Part of it was we wanted more oversight of what was happening," he said. "Intelligence gathering, they had a lot of money and were not using it well. And clearly in 9/11, the Bush Administration had intelligence they didn't use. We needed internal reforms in intelligence gathering." He also criticized Bush and DeWine for not spending more on homeland security, for making Americans less safe by starting the Iraq War, and for a recent report that the Bush Administration will allow a Dubai-based company to manage U.S. ports.
"These guys are failing at [national security] every day. They're not going to get away with saying we're soft, because we're not."