BGSU Poll Shows Ohio Republicans Backing Trump, Carson; Democrats Favor Clinton, Biden

Ohio voters skeptical of all candidates' honesty and trustworthiness

Newswise — BOWLING GREEN, O.—A new Bowling Green State University poll shows Republicans in Ohio are favoring outsiders Donald Trump and Ben Carson in the 2016 presidential race, while Democrats are looking toward insiders former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and—if he enters the race—Vice President Joe Biden.

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.

Among likely GOP primary voters in Ohio, Trump leads with 26.9 percent of the vote, followed by Carson with 21.8 percent of the vote. Ohio Governor John Kasich garners just 13 percent of the vote.

“'Outsider-ism' isn’t new in American politics. Candidates as different as Ronald Reagan in 1980 and Barack Obama in 2008 ran as Washington outsiders," said Dr. Melissa Miller, an associate professor of political science at BGSU. "What’s different this year is that the outsiders doing so well on the Republican side haven’t held political office before. Woe to the seasoned politicians running on the Republican side this year—Ohio’s likely Republican primary voters grant them all single-digit status save for their own Republican governor, John Kasich.”

Among likely Democratic primary voters in Ohio, Clinton leads with 53.8 percent of the vote, followed by Bernie Sanders with 22.7 percent. When those same voters were given the same candidate options, plus Biden, Clinton still leads with 38.2 percent, followed by Biden with 20.5 percent. Sanders then moves into third place with 16.9 percent.

"Hillary Clinton's 31 point lead over Bernie Sanders among Ohio's likely Democratic primary voters may stem in part from her solid performance in CNN's televised debate," said Miller. "It may also reflect some goodwill toward Secretary Clinton and the Clinton brand—Bill Clinton carried Ohio in both 1992 and 1996, and Hillary Clinton beat then-candidate Barack Obama in Ohio's 2008 Democratic presidential primary."


In a series of general election match-ups against GOP leader Donald Trump, Democrats have the edge. 

Clinton and Biden do equally well against Trump; each posts an 11-point margin over the current Republican leader. Clinton takes 45.9 percent and Trump 34.8 percent in their two-way match-up. Biden takes 44.6 percent and Trump 33.3 percent in their head-to-head.

Sanders has a somewhat lower 8-point margin over Trump, taking 42.4 percent versus the business mogul with 34.4 percent in their two-way match-up.

In a series of general election match-ups against Carson—currently in second place among GOP primary voters—Democrats also have an edge, although it is slightly smaller than their edge over Trump. Clinton has a 10-point margin over Carson—44.7 percent to 35.2 percent, respectively. Biden has a 9-point margin over Carson at 42.2 percent to 33.3 percent, respectively, and Sanders has a 7-point margin over Carson.

In the match-up against former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Biden has the widest margin among Democrats, although Clinton garners a higher percentage of votes against him. Biden has an 18-point margin over Bush—44.9 percent to 26.8 percent. Clinton enjoys a 17-point margin, garnering 47 percent to Bush's 30.5 percent. Sanders has a 13-point margin over Bush (42.9 percent to 29.5 percent).

Matched up to Carly Fiorina, Biden has the widest margin, although again, Clinton garners a higher percentage of votes against the former HP executive. Biden leads Fiorina 43 to 27.3 percent, respectively, Clinton has a 15-point margin—44.9 to 30.3 percent and Sanders leads 41.7 to 29.4 percent


Republican candidates do not fare well when voters assess them individually. Only Kasich and Carson are more often rated favorably than unfavorably by Ohio’s likely presidential election voters. All of the other Republican candidates are “underwater,” with higher percentages of voters viewing them unfavorably than favorably.

Kasich enjoys the highest favorability ratings among all the Republican candidates; 43.4 percent view him favorably while 37.7 percent view him unfavorably.

Carson is also more likely to be viewed favorably than unfavorably by likely Ohio voters—39.9 percent to 37.2.

Trump, the leading candidate among GOP primary voters, is "underwater" in terms of favorability. Just under 54 percent of likely Ohio voters in the 2016 presidential election view him unfavorably versus 36.7 percent viewing him favorably.  Although Bush and Fiorina are tied for fourth in the Ohio Republican primary among likely voters, their favorability ratings among all voters are quite different. Fiorina is "underwater" by 9.5 points (29.5 percent favorable; 39 percent unfavorable). Bush is “underwater” by more than double that at 23.6 points (29.7 percent favorable; 53.3 percent unfavorable). Notably, 31.5 percent of Ohio likely voters were either not familiar enough with Fiorina, or not sure how to rate her. This same was true for just 17 percent of Ohio likely voters when it came to Bush.

"The contentious GOP primary seems to be taking its toll on the Republican brand," said Miller. "Virtually all of the Republicans—save for Ohio’s own governor John Kasich and outsider pediatric surgeon Ben Carson—are underwater in terms of voter favorability.” Ohio voters’ ratings of the Democratic candidates for president were markedly more balanced. For Clinton, virtually the same proportion of 2016 likely Ohio voters rated her favorably (46.4 percent) as unfavorably (46.1 percent).

Sanders enjoys a slight positive skew in his favorability ratings. While 39 percent view Sanders favorably, 34.8 percent view him unfavorably. Like Sanders, Biden enjoys a slight positive skew in his favorability ratings. 45.3 percent view Biden favorably, while 41.3 percent view him unfavorably.

Ohio voters are skeptical of each candidate’s honesty and trustworthiness. None of the candidates on either side of the aisle breaks the 50 percent threshold by Ohio’s likely presidential election voters. Among the Democratic candidates, Biden has the best rating; 45.6 percent view Biden as honest and trustworthy, while 38.3 percent view Sanders as the same. Meanwhile, Clinton fares least well among the top three Democrats; she is viewed as honest and trustworthy by just 34.2 percent.

Among the Republican candidates, Carson is most widely viewed as honest and trustworthy by 38.2 percent of Ohio’s likely presidential election voters. Meanwhile, Trump, Bush and Fiorina have virtually identical ratings, with just under three in 10 Ohio voters viewing them as honest and trustworthy (29.5 percent for Trump, 29 percent for Bush, and 28.4 percent for Fiorina). Ohio voters appear skeptical that either the Democrats or the Republicans possess other key presidential traits as well. On the important matter of being “ready to be Commander in Chief,” none of the candidates gained majority backing. Among the Democratic candidates, Clinton garnered the highest ratings in terms of Commander in Chief readiness—47.2 percent of likely presidential voters in Ohio viewed Clinton as ready, versus 44.5 percent for Biden and 27.1 percent for Sanders.

Among the Republican candidates, Trump (28.3 percent) and Bush (28.4 percent) are in a virtual tie in terms of being viewed as ready to serve as Commander in Chief. Meanwhile, 26.1 percent of likely presidential voters in Ohio viewed Ben Carson as ready, and 19.8 percent viewed Carly Fiorina as ready. Relatively few likely voters in the 2016 presidential election feel that either the Democrats or the Republicans “cares about people like [them].” Again, on the Democratic side Biden has the best ratings while Carson enjoys the highest ratings on the Republican side. Among the Democratic candidates, 42.7 percent believe Joe Biden “cares about people like [me].” This compares with 38.9 percent for Clinton and 35.4 percent for Sanders.

Among the Republican candidates, 33.7 percent believe Ben Carson “cares about people like [me].” This compares with 26.7 percent for Donald Trump, 25.4 percent for Jeb Bush and 24.1 percent for Carly Fiorina.

Zogby Analytics conducted the survey online on Oct. 16 and 17 as part of an Ohio survey of likely voters. Additional BGSU Poll results on the Ohio ballot issues, Senate race, the impact of celebrity endorsements, and what Ohio voters think about funding for Planned Parenthood, will be released in the coming days.

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.


Editor's Note: Graphics showing the breakdown of these results can be found here. Drs. Melissa Miller and David Jackson, political science, are available for interviews regarding the BGSU Poll. To schedule an interview, contact Jen Sobolewski, Office of Marketing and Communications, at 419-372-8582 or 419-309-3029.

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