There's not a ton of consensus among Ohio Republicans about who they'd like their Senate candidate to be next year but their top choice is a blast from the past- Ken Blackwell. 17% say they'd like the former Secretary of State and Gubernatorial candidate to be their nominee, followed by 14% for current Secretary of State Jon Husted, 12% for comedian Drew Carey, 9% for Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor, 8% for Congressmen Jim Jordan and Steve LaTourette, 6% for Treasurer Josh Mandel, and 1% for state senator Shannon Jones.
It's kind of hard to write off Blackwell's lead as just name recognition since Husted, Taylor, and Mandel all got elected statewide just four months ago. A Blackwell candidacy would actually make sense in a lot of ways. Unlike Jordan and LaTourette he wouldn't have to give up a safe House seat to make a bid (although we'll see how they come out in redistricting.) And unlike Husted, Taylor, and Mandel he wouldn't have to deal with the baggage of seeming to shirk the duties of a statewide office he was just elected to. Right now defeating Sherrod Brown looks to be a bit of a long shot so it might be the sort of high risk, high reward thing that someone like Blackwell with little to lose should be looking for if he wants to get back into the electoral politics game.
If you take Drew Carey out of the equation the preference for Blackwell expands to 21% naming him as their top choice compared to 14% for Husted and 10% for LaTourette and Jordan.
The Republican Presidential race in the state is muddled, as is the case most everywhere. Mike Huckabee 'leads' with 19% wanting him as the party nominee to 18% for Mitt Romney, 16% for Newt Gingrich, 15% for Sarah Palin, 7% for Ron Paul, 5% for Tim Pawlenty, 4% for Mitch Daniels, and 2% for Haley Barbour.
The main thing of note with those numbers is the decline of Sarah Palin. When we polled Ohio in December she was the top choice of Republicans in the state at 21% but now she's dropped 6 points and into 4th place at 15%. Her favorability numbers have taken a big hit as well. She was at a +48 spread in December (68/20) but has seen a 15 point decline to a +33 spread (61/28). A lot of people have been writing about Palin's Republican problem this week- it's real.
The numbers in Ohio also provide more evidence that Gingrich has stumbled out of the block- he's seen a 9 point drop in his net favorability from +26 in December (53/27) to now +17 (46/29). Romney's only seen a one point shift in his numbers over that period of time while Huckabee's actually improved a net 4 points.
Full results here