http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/17/u...5264d9c5b5f&hp&ex=1161144000&partner=homepage October 17, 2006 Opposition to G.O.P. Rises in Ohio, Poll Says By JOHN M. BRODER and MEGAN C. THEE The bellwether state of Ohio appears to have become hostile terrain for Republicans this year, with voters there overwhelmingly saying Democrats are more likely to help create jobs and concluding by a wide margin that Republicans in the state are more prone to political corruption than are Democrats, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. Ohio is home this year to closely watched races for governor, the United States Senate and a growing roster of competitive House seats, and the state has become one of the most contested battlegrounds of 2006 and one in which voters at this point are strongly favoring Democrats on many issues. The Democratic candidates for governor and Senate hold commanding, double-digit leads over their Republican opponents in the poll and respondents said they intended to vote for the Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives in their district by a 50 to 32 percent margin. The results raise alarm bells for President Bush and his party across the nation three weeks from Election Day. The poll found a striking slippage in the presidentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s standing among white evangelical Christians, a constituency that has provided a strong vote cushion for Republican candidates in recent elections. In November 2004, 76 percent of white evangelical Christians in Ohio voted for Mr. Bush. When asked in this poll whether they approve or disapprove of the job Mr. Bush is doing as president, 49 percent approved while 45 percent disapproved. Ohio is a Republican-leaning but heavily contested state that twice voted to elect Mr. Bush and gave him his Electoral College margin of victory in 2004. But it is not a perfect microcosm of the country, and in particular it has higher levels of economic anxiety, the poll found. Sixty-five percent of those surveyed rated the stateÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s economy as bad; only 34 percent said it was good. In Ohio, 49 percent of respondents described the nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s economy as good and 50 percent said it was bad. In a national Times/CBS News poll conducted earlier this month, 60 percent said the economy was good and only 39 percent said it was bad. A plurality, 46 percent of Ohio voters, said the economy and jobs were the most important issues facing the state, while 17 percent cited health care, 15 percent said terrorism and 12 percent said the war in Iraq. Seventy percent said both Ohio and the nation are on the wrong track, a number that often spells doom for the party in power. More than three-quarters of Ohioans in the poll said they strongly favored a ballot measure to increase the state minimum wage to $6.85 an hour from $5.15 an hour. The ballot measure is backed by labor unions and other Democratic interests and is aimed in part at drawing Democratic voters to the polls on Election Day, just as measures to outlaw gay marriage propelled Republicans to vote in several states two years ago. Only a third of Ohio voters approve of the job Mr. Bush is doing as president or the way he is handling the economy, and they seem poised to take it out on Republican candidates up and down the ballot. Republican officials at the national level said this week they had all but written off the Ohio Senate and governorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s races and were diverting resources to other states where they believed they had a better chance of winning. Ã¢â‚¬Å“In Ohio weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve seen nothing but our manufacturing jobs cease to exist,Ã¢â‚¬ said one poll respondent, David Stuck, 59, of Miami Township, Ohio, who said he voted twice for Mr. Bush. He blamed inaction at the federal level for the evaporation of jobs in Ohio and said he planned for vote for the Democratic candidate for United States Senate, Sherrod Brown, over the incumbent, Senator Mike DeWine, a Republican. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Call it a protest,Ã¢â‚¬ Mr. Stuck, a Republican, said in a follow-up interview. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t seen anything done in the last six years. To be honest, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m truly thinking about voting Democratic across the board because IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m tired of Bush.Ã¢â‚¬ The statewide telephone poll was conducted Wednesday through Sunday with 1,164 adults, including 1,020 registered voters. The margin of sampling error for the entire group is plus or minus 3 percentage points, and it is the same for the registered voters. More than half of the pollÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s respondents said they believed corruption was widespread in Ohio and said, by a 3-to-1 margin, that the Republican Party had more corrupt politicians than the Democrats. Gov. Bob Taft, a Republican, pleaded no contest last year to ethics charges arising from dealings with a crooked investment manager. Representative Bob Ney, an Ohio Republican, pleaded guilty to corruption charges last week arising from his association with Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist at the center of an influence-selling scandal in Washington. Doris Stucky, a 79-year-old retired nurse from New Philadelphia, Ohio, said she thought all politicians were corrupt. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re out to line their pocketbooks and get votes and they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t care what they do or say to get them,Ã¢â‚¬ said Mrs. Stucky, a Republican, in a telephone interview after she participated in the poll. Ã¢â‚¬Å“They came down on Bob Ney and I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s any more guilty than the rest of them,Ã¢â‚¬ she said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the same in Ohio. I think politicians are all the same. I wish we could find some good honest Christian politicians but I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think there are any.Ã¢â‚¬ Mrs. Stucky said she was undecided about whom she will vote for. By large margins, Ohio voters said they trusted Democrats over Republicans to handle government spending and create new jobs. The sour mood in Ohio about the economy and the performance of incumbent politicians at all levels appears to be a motivating factor for voters who identify themselves as Democrats. Fifty-five percent of Democrats said they were more enthusiastic about voting than in previous elections for Congress, while only 30 percent of Republicans said they were. The tide of dissatisfaction appears ready to wash out Mr. DeWine, who is trailing Mr. Brown by 34 percent to 48 percent, the poll found. The Democratic candidate for governor, Representative Ted Strickland, is leading the Republican nominee, J. Kenneth Blackwell, the Ohio secretary of state, by 53 percent to 29 percent. The omens in the poll were almost uniformly grim for the president and his party. Six out of 10 respondents disapprove of the way Mr. Bush is handling the economy and Iraq, and a plurality of Ohioans (by 40 percent to 36 percent) disapprove of the way he is managing the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula. The approval rating for the Republican-led Congress is a paltry 22 percent. Among adults nationwide, 27 percent approve of the way Congress is doing its job. One bright spot for the president and Republicans was that while about 60 percent said they had made up their minds about this yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s elections, four in 10 said it was too early to say how they would vote. Many Democrats in Ohio still harbor resentment about the 2004 contest between Mr. Bush and Senator John Kerry, which Mr. Bush officially won by about 120,000 votes out of 5.6 million cast in Ohio. Only 30 percent of Democratic poll respondents said they believed the 2004 vote count was fair and accurate, while 64 percent said it was not. (Many conspiracy-minded Democratic activists blamed Mr. Blackwell, who serves as statewide supervisor of elections, for manipulating voting technology to help Mr. Bush win.) Republicans, by 89 percent to 8 percent, said the voting was fair and balanced. Twenty-eight percent of those polled said an adult in their household has been out of work and looking for a job in the past 12 months, and 44 percent of them said they were worried that someone in their family would be out of work in the coming year. James Reed, 50, a self-described independent voter from Ashtabula, Ohio, said in a follow-up interview that Mr. Taft, who is not running for re-election, Ã¢â‚¬Å“has sold us down the road as far as jobs are concerned.Ã¢â‚¬ Mr. Reed, a disabled chemical plant worker, said trade restrictions were needed to prevent American jobs from being shipped overseas, a view shared by 69 percent of Ohioans surveyed. Marjorie Connelly and Marina Stefan contributed reporting for this article. .