BGSU Poll: Ohio Voters Divided on President Barack Obama, Split on Defunding Planned Parenthood

Newswise — BOWLING GREEN, O.—Ohio voters are divided on their feelings about President Barack Obama, with 45.8 percent favorable toward the president and 47.2 percent saying they feel unfavorable toward him. That’s according to a new Bowling Green State University statewide poll of likely voters.

The BGSU Poll, conducted by Zogby Analytics, surveyed 804 likely Ohio voters in the 2016 general election (249 Republican, 306 Democrat, 249 Independent). The poll was conducted Oct. 16 and 17 and the results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

“This indicates that the Democratic Presidential nominee will not be greatly burdened by being linked with President Obama … Likely Ohio general election voters feel ambivalent toward him, which will not be a great hurdle for the eventual Democratic nominee to overcome to win the crucial battleground state,” said Dr. David J. Jackson, professor of political science at BGSU.

As expected, sentiments about the president are clearly differentiated by party, with 78 percent of Democrats favorable, compared with only 13 percent of Republicans.There is a similar pattern when it comes to job approval of the president. Overall, 48.9 percent approve of the job Mr. Obama is doing as President, while 49.2 percent disapprove. Among Democrats, 78.7 percent approve, versus only 16 percent of Republicans.

On the other hand, a solid majority believes the United States is on the wrong track. Almost 56 percent believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, while only 31.1 percent believe we are on the right track. 

Feelings about Ohio are quite different. In this case, a plurality of 47.7 percent believe things in the Buckeye State are on the right track, while only 31.3 percent believe things in Ohio are on the wrong track. 

“If the eventual Democratic nominee is linked to the overall direction of the country and voters feel that’s going in the wrong direction, that could be a serious challenge,” said Jackson. “The nominee will need to walk the tight rope of keeping the Democratic base happy by aligning with the policies of the Obama Administration, while at the same time distancing him or herself from the negative overall view the electorate holds about the country’s direction.”

Planned Parenthood Funding

Ohio voters are split on defunding Planned Parenthood, which has gained currency among Republicans in Congress. Almost 43 percent support cutting off federal funding, while 48.9 percent oppose ending funding. 

They are not, however, ambivalent about shutting down the federal government in order to force Congress to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Only 24.8 percent favor shutting down the government to defund Planned Parenthood, while 65.8 percent oppose such a shutdown. 

There are definite religious and partisan dimensions to preferences on Planned Parenthood. Voters who consider themselves born-again Christian are most likely to support a cut-off of funding to the organization. Among those identifying as born-again, 67.3 percent favor a funding cut-off, versus 47.9 percent of Catholics and 32.1 percent of Protestants.

In terms of partisanship, 59.2 percent of Republicans favor cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood, versus 28.5 percent of Democrats.

The BGSU poll explores attitudes on critical issues facing the citizens of Ohio and supports the research interests of the University’s faculty and students. The first set of results that break down candidate traits and who leads Ohio among primary voters, can be found here.

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