Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell applauds during a 2006 campaign stop in Lima, Ohio.
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EDITOR'S NOTE: This version clarifies the statement made by Peter Brown of Quinnipiac.
Ken Blackwell, the unsuccessful Republican nominee for governor in 2006, leads in the Republican primary contest for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Sherrod Brown, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday.
The poll found Mr. Blackwell trailing Mr. Brown by 44 to 35 percent.
Senator Brown leads state Treasurer Josh Mandel 45 to 31 percent and leads former State Sen. Kevin Coughlin of Cuyahoga Falls 44 to 28 percent, in the poll.
The same poll showed Ohio voters approve of the job President Barack Obama is doing by 49 to 45 percent. That’s an improvement from a March 24 survey that showed the President with a 47-to-48-percent approval rating by the independent Quinnipiac University.
President Obama leads an unnamed Republican in the November, 2012, election 41 to 39 percent, down from 41 to 34 percent in March. On whether the Democratic president deserves a second term, poll respondents split 47 to 47 percent, compared with 45 to 46 percent in March.
Among Republican voters, Mr. Blackwell gets 33 percent in the U.S. Senate primary, with Mr. Mandel at 17 percent and Mr. Coughlin at 5 percent. Another 43 percent are undecided.
Senator Brown received a 49 percent to 30 percent job approval rating, the polling institute said.
“Sen. Sherrod Brown obviously begins the campaign with a strong lead against any Republican,” Peter Brown, assistant director of Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a prepared statement. “But he is not necessarily home free. He is unable to get 50 percent against any of the three potential challengers, which is the dividing line for incumbents who are overwhelmingly favored for re-election.”
He noted that Mr. Blackwell is much better known than his two rivals and that almost half of GOP voters are undecided.
Ohio voters approve 38 percent to21 percent of the job Ohio Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman is doing. Another 41 percent are undecided on the first-termer.
The university surveyed 1,379 registered voters May 10-16. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.