Ohio Republicans say Mike DeWine would be their first choice of a candidate to take on Sherrod Brown in 2012, although that's likely a function of name recognition more than anything else. 27% of GOP voters in the state say they'd like DeWine to be their nominee, followed by former Secretary of State and 2006 Gubernatorial nominee Ken Blackwell at 17%, incoming Secretary of State Jon Husted at 11%, Congressman Jim Jordan at 10%, incoming Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor at 7%, Congressman Steve LaTourette at 6%, incoming Treasurer Josh Mandel at 5%, and outgoing state Senator Kevin Coughlin at 2%.
The main takeaway from this poll shouldn't be that Republicans are hankering for DeWine to return to the Senate so much as it should be that voters don't have half a clue who their down ballot statewide office holders are. Husted was elected just last month but still 58% even of Republican primary voters have no opinion about him. Even more surprising might be the 62% without a take on Taylor despite the fact that she's already served one term in statewide office and was just elected Lieutenant Governor. 70% with no opinion about Jordan is less of a surprise since he's only represented a small portion of the state.
75% of voters know DeWine and that recognition is probably what vaults him to the top of this poll. What's interesting is to dig a little deeper on what the numbers are with the Republicans who do know some of these lesser known candidates. With the few folks who know Jordan he's the top choice with 31% saying they want him to be the nominee to 21% for DeWine and 17% for Blackwell. Husted and Taylor don't lead with the folks who know who they are, but they do see things tighten up quite a bit. With voters who have an opinion about Taylor DeWine goes down to 21% with Taylor and Blackwell close behind at 16% each. With voters who have an opinion about Husted DeWine is at 24% to 19% for Blackwell and 16% for Husted.
The main thing you can take away from this is that assuming DeWine doesn't run it's about as wide open as could be. I'm sure Sherrod Brown would love to see a crowded primary here- one of the reasons Rob Portman proved to be such a formidable candidate is that the field cleared for him and he didn't have to tack hard right to get the nomination.
The numbers for President in Ohio show their typical traffic jam. Sarah Palin has the slightest of leads with 21% followed by Mike Huckabee at 19%, Newt Gingrich at 18%, and Mitt Romney down at 15%. Ron Paul leads the second tier with 6%, followed by Mitch Daniels at 5%, Tim Pawlenty at 3%, and John Thune at 2%. This is another state where it seems like GOP primary voters are on a death wise, given that our general election numbers in Ohio made it clear that Palin would be defeated handily by Barack Obama whereas Huckabee or Romney would put the race in toss up status.
The numbers in Ohio reflect the standard ideological divide we've been seeing in these polls across the country. Palin actually finishes 5th with moderates in Ohio at only 11%, behind even Ron Paul. But she's at 24% with conservatives to 18% for Huckabee and they make up such an overwhelming share of the electorate at 73% that she really doesn't need much support from GOP centrists at all to post a small lead in the state.
Full results here