Lee Fisher has taken a 40-38 lead in the Ohio Senate race, representing a seven point improvement for him since PPP last surveyed the contest in March and found Rob Portman ahead by a 41-36 margin.
You might expect that uptick in Fisher's prospects to be attributable to strengthening his support with the Democratic base in the wake of his primary victory last month, but it's actually because he's showing stronger support from Republicans. He gets 69% of the Democratic vote this month, just a slight uptick from the 67% he was getting in March. But he's now getting 14% from GOP voters, up from 8% in the previous poll. GOP voters simply aren't that enthused about Portman yet. His favorability with them is less than a 2:1 postive ratio at 33/17. In contrast Fisher sports almost a 4:1 positive favorability within his own party at 47/13.
Fisher and Portman are each getting 69% of their party's vote, and Portman has a 40-25 lead with independents. One thing striking in the numbers is the level of voter indecision. 22% are undecided and they don't know their candidates particularly well yet. 45% don't know enough about Fisher to have formed an opinion and 53% say the same when it comes to Portman.
One finding in the poll bodes very poorly for Portman if Democrats are effective in getting their message across this fall. 59% of voters say they have more faith in Columbus politicians (a group Fisher falls into) to deal with Ohio's problems to just 15% who say their greater trust goes to Washington politicians, something Democrats will certainly attempt to make Portman out as at most any opportunity they get. 2010 is not a good year to be a DC insider and that could end up being the determining factor in a closely contested race like this.
A possible detriment to Fisher's prospects though is how Ohio voters feel about President Obama. His approval in the state is only 42%, with 54% disapproving of him. That's actually a slight improvement from PPP's March Ohio poll that found the President at just 40%, but it's still confirmation that Obama's more likely to be a liability for Fisher at the polls than an asset this fall.
I can't imagine either candidate really breaking away in this race- it ought to be a close one right until the end.
Full results here