Thursday, September 19, 2002

Poll: Taft skating, Deters sweating

Former county prosecutor may lose state treasurer job

By Leo Shane III
Gannett Columbus Bureau

        COLUMBUS — A statewide poll released Wednesday showed Gov. Bob Taft with an 18-point lead in his re-election race against Democrat Tim Hagan.

        The Ohio Poll, conducted by the Institute for Policy research at the University of Cincinnati, also showed Republican treasurer Joe Deters in a statistical dead heat with Democrat Mary Boyle.

Gov. Taft
 Tim Hagan
Tim Hagan
        Mr. Taft is leading 53 percent to 35 percent over Mr. Hagan among likely voters, according to the poll, which was conducted by telephone Sept. 4-Sept. 15.

        The 18-point gap is significantly larger than recent polls by the Columbus Dispatch and Cleveland Plain Dealer, which had the difference at 8 and 11 points, respectively.

        Mr. Taft's lead has declined from a 23-point lead in the July Ohio Poll.

        Mr. Hagan's campaign advisers called the poll data off-base, but said Mr. Hagan is making up ground in the campaign. “Even if (Taft) is at 53 percent, that's a number that continues to drop,” said spokesman Gerald Austin.

        Secretary of State Ken Blackwell leads 54 percent to 32 percent in his re-election campaign over Democrat Bryan Flannery.

        Auditor Jim Petro's campaign to become attorney general enjoys a 58 percent to 31 percent advantage over Democrat Leigh Herington.

        Attorney General Betty Montgomery leads opponent Helen Knipe Smith 64 percent to 27 percent in the auditor's race.

        The only race where the poll gives Democrats the advantage is the treasurer's race. Mr. Deters and Ms. Boyle are statistically even, with Ms. Boyle up 2 percentage points.

        Ms. Boyle, a former county commissioner in Cleveland and U.S. Senate candidate in 1998, said she was pleased with those numbers, especially since the poll gives her higher name-recognition marks than the incumbent Mr. Deters, formerly Hamilton County prosecutor.

        Mr. Deters has already bought about $1.25 million in media time for the days leading up to the November election, and spokeswoman Lisa Peterson said campaign officials hope that advertising helps sway undecided voters his way on election day.

        The poll of 537 likely voters has an error margin of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.


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