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Published: Friday, 9/17/2010

Latest poll shows Portman has substantial lead over Fisher in Senate race


COLUMBUS — In more bad news for Democrats, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rob Portman holds a 20-point lead over Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher in the latest Quinnipiac Poll released Friday.

The same poll showed that President Barack Obama has an approval rating of likely voters in the Nov. 2 election of just 38 percent in Ohio, a bellwether state considered crucial to his re-election plans in two years.

Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said voters are looking for someone to oppose the Democratic president's policies.

"It's difficult to find any good news for Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher in these numbers," he said. "Likely voters in Ohio, as is the case nationally, are angry at the status quo and with Democrats controlling Congress and the White House.

"Fisher is taking it on the chin from those who are trying to send a message to the White House. A Democrat who is losing among women likely voters by 8 points is a candidate in trouble."

The GOP lead in the Senate race is even wider than that seen in a similar poll released Thursday in the governor's race by the Connecticut university. That poll, finished just as Tuesday's gubernatorial debate was about to begin, had Republican John Kasich up by 17 points over Democratic incumbent Ted Strickland.

Quinnipiac polls earlier this year had Mr. Portman, a former Cincinnati area congressman and former George W. Bush budget and trade official, and Mr. Fisher, a former attorney general from the Cleveland area, trading the lead back and forth. But that was based on a wider polling sample of registered voters as opposed to the more targeted sample of likely voters used in this survey.

The poll of 730 likely voters taken between Sept. 9-14 put Mr. Portman up over Mr. Fisher 55 percent to 35 percent thanks to strong support from members of his own party and a 25-point lead among independents. Ten percent of likely voters said they are undecided or supporting a third candidate, and 18 percent of those who did state a preference said they could still be persuaded to change their minds.

The poll showed that 65 percent of likely voters disapprove of Mr. Obama's health care reform law.

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