Forget turkeys - it's POLLING season in Ohio

By Chad D. Baus

It's election season, which means it's polling season.

A few recent surveys are worth taking note of as some Ohio gun owners begin early voting, while many others make plans to head to the polls on May 4.

From a March 11 The Washington Times editorial entitled "The NRA outshoots Obama":

The National Rifle Association has a higher mean approval rating among likely voters than Barack Obama. This and other fascinating facts emerged from the Democracy Corps/Third Way national security survey released this week. According to its liberal authors, the "sobering" results of the survey provide "a wake-up call for President Obama, his party and progressives on national security."

Back in Ohio, the The Dayton Daily News is reporting that Republican Rob Portman has a slight edge over both Democratic candidates - Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher - among voters in the U.S. Senate race in a poll released on Wednesday, March 24. And an unpopular President Obama is having an impact on the results.

From the story:

The major finding from the poll from Public Policy Polling of Raleigh, N.C., however, was that voters don't know much about any of the major candidates in the race to replace Republican U.S. Sen. George Voinovich, who is retiring.

About two-thirds - 66 percent - don't know enough about Portman, a former Cincinnati-area U.S. House member and budget director and U.S. trade representative for President George W. Bush, to have an opinion about him..

Sixty two percent said the same thing for Brunner and 55 percent were't sure what to think of Fisher.

In the matchups, Portman leads Brunner, 38-37 percent, a virtual tie, and is ahead of Fisher, 41-36 percent.

A key to the race may be how voters feel about Democratic President Barack Obama and that's not good for Democrats. Fifty-three percent disapprove of the president's job performance while just 40 percent give Obama good marks.

"None of the candidates in Ohio is really standing out right now," Dean Debnam, Public Policy Polling president, said in a press release.

"But if Barack Obama's numbers in the state remain this low it's not likely to elect a Democratic senator this year. His popularity could be the deciding factor in the race."

The poll was taken Saturday, March 20, and Sunday, March 21, with 630 voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percent.

Portman proudly notes that he received an A grade from the NRA every year he served in Congress (1994 – 2004). On the other hand, Lee Fisher and Jennifer Brunner both have much less desirable records on guns-related issues.

A former Handgun Control Inc. board member, Fisher lost a 1994 bid as Attorney General, having been quoted as saying "I never met a gun control bill I didn't like," and lost a 1998 race for Governor, having stood on a podium with gun ban extremist Sarah Brady to announce his campaign.

Brunner is remembered for representing the "Save the Doves Committee," an animal rights group that attempted to ban the hunting of mourning doves in Ohio via a ballot initiative in the 1990's. Brunner's committee was funded by anti-hunting extremist groups, including the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

In the race for governor, meanwhile, The Dayton Daily News is reporting that incumbent Ted Strickland continues to trail in the polls.

From the story:

Republican challenger John Kasich leads incumbent Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, 42-37 percent among Ohio voters in a poll released on Tuesday, March 23 by Public Policy Polling of Raleigh, N.C.

Kasich, a former U.S. House member from suburban Columbus and former Lehman Bros. investment banker, has the lead even though 50 percent of those in the poll said they didn't know enough about him to have an opinion. Of the 50 percent who did know Kasich, 25 percent held a favorable opinion and 24 percent saw him negatively.

"Those usually aren't the kinds of popularity numbers we see for someone leading an incumbent," the poll analysis said.

The analysis added: "Strickland, though is an unusually popular incumbent." The poll found 33 percent of voter approved of his job performance, while 47 percent disapproved.

"If you're a politician right now, if you're an incumbent, you're not a popular guy. That's pretty much universal," Dean Debnam, Public Policy Polling president, said.

So far the election is a referendum on Strickland, the analysis said.

"One of the reasons Kasich is this far ahead is (that) he's not Strickland," said Debnam.

The poll was taken on Saturday, March 20, through Sunday, March 21, with 630 Ohio voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percent.

In 2006, gun owners disenchanted with anti-gun Republican Bob Taft voted for Strickland, a Democrat and a former congressman with a 100% pro-gun voting record. It remains to be seen if Kasich, who has a much more spotty record of gun-related congressional votes, can regain the trust of pro-gun voters. The Republican continues to make efforts to that end, most recently via a blog post in which he called on the Ohio legislature to pass Senate Bill 239, a bill designed to update Ohio's current concealed carry laws to make them more consistent with those in other states.

Speaking of a candidate's attempts to restore his image with gun owners, there has perhaps never been a more blatant example of election year conversion than that which is currently on display in Mike DeWine's campaign for Attorney General (yes, that Mike DeWine).

Again, from the The Dayton Daily News:

Former U.S. Senator and current Ohio attorney general candidate Mike DeWine will soon be able to pack heat.

"My wife and I are finishing up our course," DeWine said on Saturday, March 27, at the Ohio Liberty Fair in Troy.

DeWine, a Cedarville Republican, said he and his wife are getting concealed carry permits once they finish the mandatory gun safety course.

If elected, DeWine said he will try to get reciprocity with other states, so they recognize Ohio's concealed carry law, and he pledged support for individuals' right to bear arms.

Maybe it is turkey season after all.

Or maybe DeWine really has made a short trip down the long road to a pro-gun conversion.

The trouble is, this is no time for pro-gun voters to try and find out.

As he crisscrosses the state trying to regain the favor of those he snubbed while in D.C. (i.e. pro-gun voters and his conservative base), DeWine has been meeting with members of the grassroots pro-gun movement, including myself and several other Buckeye Firearms Association leaders.

While he claims to have been convinced by the successful implementation of Ohio's concealed carry law that he can trust law-abiding citizens with guns, his new trust is clearly only skin deep. When I pressed him about his final votes on gun-related issues (in 2006 he voted to ban private sales between individuals at gun shows), cast just before voters threw him out of the U.S. Senate, it was clear his opinion on the subject had not changed.

As he did in the story above, he mentioned to me and others that if he is elected, he plans to aggressively pursue reciprocity agreements with other states. But when pressed, he couldn't name a single additional state that he felt would be eligible for striking up an agreement.

It won't be scientific, but as long as it's poll season, I'd like to conduct my own little survey:

Please click below to answer the question:

Do you believe Mike DeWine has had a change of heart on the gun issue?

I look forward to readers' feedback. Please cast your vote, and also feel free to email your thoughts about Mike DeWine and the gun issue to me at [email protected]!

Chad Baus is a Member of the Fulton County, OH, Republican Central Committee and Vice Chairman of Buckeye Firearms Association.

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