Tales from the Trail

Reuters-Ipsos Poll: Republican Portman leads in Ohio Senate race

It’s a bad news and not-so-bad news scenario for Democrats in Ohio.

The bad news is in the Senate race where Republican Rob Portman has a strong 13-point lead over Democrat Lee Fisher, 50 percent to 37 percent, according to a Reuters-Ipsos poll.

USA-ELECTION/“It’s starting to look insurmountable,” Ipsos pollster Chris Jackson says of the lead held by President George W. Bush’s former budget director and U.S. trade representative.

A majority of Ohio voters, 60 percent,  said Portman’s work with Bush made no difference in their vote, while another 30 percent of registered voters said it made them less likely to vote for Portman, including one in five independents. Nine percent said it made them more likely to vote for him.

The not-so-bad news is Democrats are closing the enthusiasm gap in Ohio, although they still lag Republicans who say they are certain to vote.

Now, 79 percent of Democrats say they are certin to vote compared with 67 percent in August, while 91 percent of Republicans said they were certain to vote, compared with th 89 percent in August.

Washington Extra – Tragedy in Alaska

ted_stevensThere were three big stories competing for our attention in Washington today. The first was the tragic death of former Senator Ted Stevens in a small plane crash in his home state of Alaska. Stevens, the longest serving Republican senator ever, was on a fishing trip with Sean O’Keefe, the North American chief of European aerospace giant and Airbus maker EADS, who was among the survivors.

Dominating eyeballs in the financial markets was the Federal Reserve’s surprise decision to move back in the direction of what it calls “quantitative easing.” The Fed will use cash from maturing mortgage bonds it holds to buy more government debt. So for now, there is no more talk of an “exit strategy” from the extraordinary monetary stimulus the central bank delivered during the financial crisis. It is a significant policy shift for the Fed, and a sign it does not view the recent slowing in the economy as simply a soft patch.

The third is our exclusive Reuters/IPSOS poll from Ohio, which showed Republican Rob Portman holding a narrow lead over Democrat Lee Fisher in a race marked by, guess what, concerns over the economy and unemployment. Interesting nuggets in the survey too about who voters blame for the economic mess. Bankers and Wall Street were identified by 93 percent of voters as mostly or partially to blame for the economic downturn, while Bush’s administration was blamed by 86 percent. Obama, though, did not get off scot-free, with 69 percent of voters also holding his administration at fault.

U.S. Senate Democratic contender bashes Democratic-led Washington

If there was any question that Democrats were in for a tough election year, go no further than Lee Fisher’s campaign flyer that’s been mailed OBAMA-HEALTHCAREout to Ohio voters.

“Washington is Working Against Ohio Families” it warns in large letters superimposed over a picture of dark storm clouds hovering over the U.S. Capitol.  On the flyer’s backside is the declaration: “Washington is broken and has let us down.”

As he tries to win the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Senator George Voinovich, Fisher’s campaign seems to be taking on the Democrats who control the White House and both chambers of the U.S. Congress.