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Published: 9/29/2011

Romney, Perry GOP frontrunners

Poll of Ohio Republicans shows other candidates in field far behind

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

Ohio Republican voters are having trouble making up their minds between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry for the Republican presidential nomination, according to a poll released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

The poll found that Mr. Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, is the top choice of 24 percent of Republicans in the large GOP field, with Mr. Perry, the governor of Texas, running a close second at 20 percent. No other Republican got into the double digits.

But in a head-to-head race among likely Republican voters, Mr. Perry was favored 42 to 38 percent over Mr. Romney.

“The Republican presidential race in Ohio at this point is shifting back and forth between [Mr.] Romney and [Mr.] Perry,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “They’re statistically tied. They’re co-frontrunners. At this point, it appears to be a two-person race.”

The poll also said that President Obama is at his lowest approval standing in Ohio, and just barely edges out either Mr. Romney or Mr. Perry in the political battleground state.

Mr. Brown said Ohio voters disapprove the President’s performance by 53 percent to 42 percent.

Still, in a general election matchup, Mr. Obama beats Mr. Perry 44 percent to 41 percent, and Mr. Romney 44 to 42 percent.

The institute polled 1,301 registered voters Sept. 20-25, a period that overlapped a particularly bad weekend for Mr. Perry, who stumbled verbally in a national GOP candidates’ debate Sept. 22. The poll’s margin of error is 2.7 percent.

In Ohio’s U.S. Senate race, state Treasurer Josh Mandel leads state Sen. Kevin Coughlin 33 to 12 percent in the battle for the Republican nomination.

Both men trail the incumbent, Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown. Mr. Brown beats Mr. Coughlin 53-32 percent and Mr. Mandel by a narrower range, 49-36 percent.

Ohio voters approve of Mr. Brown’s job performance 52-31 percent and say, by 50–34 percent, they feel that he deserves another term in office, the poll found.

Spokesmen for the two major political parties saw positives for their side in the new numbers.

“Ohioans know Sherrod Brown is a fighter for working people and the middle class and that’s why a slew of recent polls have shown him up double digits on Josh Mandel, who is busy fighting off his numerous legal and ethical problems,” Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Justin Barasky said.

Jahan Wilcox, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said, “Sherrod Brown has spent the last 18 years in Washington maxing out the government credit card and driving up our debt instead of supporting pro-growth, pro-jobs legislation, and that’s why we expect this will be one of most competitive races in the country next year.”

Contact Tom Troy at tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.



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