Two new Suffolk University polls of Ohio and Missouri released today show Barack Obama leading John McCain 51%-42% in Ohio, and the race statistically tied in Missouri, where McCain holds a 46%-45% lead. Interestingly, Joe the Plumber is now famous, but providing little help to McCain with voters.
John McCain has a big enthusiasm problem in Ohio. Only, 49% of those surveyed were casting their voters because of John McCain himself. Fifteen percent were voting for McCain as a vote against Obama, and 8% were voting for McCain because of Sarah Palin. In contrast 71% of Obama supporters were voting for the ticket because of the candidate. Ten percent were casting a vote against John McCain, and 12% will be voting against President Bush. There are two interesting points here. Obama’s economic message seems to have generated enthusiasm in Ohio, and John McCain is still saddled with George W. Bush.
The enthusiasm gap is similar, but not as significant in Missouri. Sixty six percent of voters say that they will vote Republican because of McCain compared to 73% who will vote Democratic because of Obama. However, Sarah Palin has had little or no impact in Missouri, as only 4% of those surveyed said that they will be voting for McCain because of her. Twenty one percent of McCain supporters said that they are voting against Obama, while 14% of Obama supporters see their votes as a vote against President Bush.
Lastly Joe the Plumber has certainly gained his 15 minutes of fame, but he hasn’t helped McCain at all in Ohio and Missouri. Sixty eight percent of respondents in Ohio recognized Joe the Plumber, but only 6% said that his story made them more likely to vote for McCain, and 4% said that he made them more likely to vote for Obama. Eight five percent of those asked said that their support was not affected by Joe the Plumber. In Missouri, 80% had heard of Joe. Eight percent were more likely to vote McCain, and 3% were more likely to vote Obama, with 86% unchanged.
I think the point is that a candidate can’t substitute negative campaigning and gimmicks such as Joe the Plumber for ideas and issues. It is not much of a surprise that Obama would have a bigger lead in a state like Ohio, which has been hit hard by the economy. I think Missouri and Ohio are very close races, and if Obama wins either one of these, on election night, it could signal that the rout is on. My guess is that Ohio will tip to Obama, and Missouri will go with McCain in a squeaker. I doubt that either candidate will win both states.