(WOIO) - Although Ohio voters split 46 – 47 percent on whether President Barack Obama deserves a second term, and they give him a negative 46 – 50 percent job approval, he defeats four leading Republican presidential contenders, three by double digits, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday.
In the Ohio U.S. Senate race, State Treasurer Josh Mandel defeats State Sen. Kevin Coughlin 35 – 12 percent in the race for the Republican nomination, the independent Quinnipiac University survey finds, but 46 percent of Republicans are undecided.
Incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown beats both of them by double digits:
- 49 – 34 percent over Mandel;
- 50 – 32 percent over Coughlin.
In the race for Ohio's support among GOP presidential contenders the leader by a large margin is "don't know," with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at 16 percent, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at 15 percent, Minnesota U.S. Rep. Michele Bachman at 11 percent and Texas Gov. Rick Perry at 8 percent. No other candidate tops 6 percent.
President Obama leads Romney 45 – 41; tops Palin 51 – 35 percent; beats Bachmann 49 – 36 percent and leads Perry 47 – 35 percent.
"Ohio voters may not be wild about President Barack Obama, but at this point they appear to like his potential Republican challengers less, and in some cases a lot less," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
"His middling job and re-election ratings show that there may be a potential opportunity to defeat President Obama in 2012 in Ohio, but for that to occur the GOP will have to nominate a candidate that can capture the public's imagination to a degree not yet evident."
Obama has an 84 – 11 percent job approval among Democrats, an 89 – 9 percent disapproval among Republicans and a 54 – 42 percent disapproval among independent voters. The numbers on whether he deserves re-election follow the same trend. Democrats think he deserves re-election 86 – 7 percent; Republicans say no 89 – 7 percent and independents say no 51 – 40 percent.
"Voters in the key independent bloc are against Obama when it comes to his job performance and whether he deserves a second term, but when he is matched against a real live Republican they are slightly in his corner," said Brown.
"No Republican presidential candidate has emerged in the eye of Ohio Republicans. To say the race is wide open in Ohio is an understatement," said Brown.
Following the top four GOP contenders are businessman Herman Cain with 6 percent, Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul with 5 percent, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with 4 percent, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty with 3 percent, former Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum with 2 percent and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman at 1 percent.
Ohio voters approve 49 – 30 percent of the job Sen. Brown is doing and say 47 – 33 percent he deserves to be re-elected.