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Ohio Poll Researchers Make National Impact

Date: Oct. 10, 2000
By: Carey Hoffman
Phone: (513) 556-1825
Archive: General News

For the pollsters behind UC's Ohio Poll, it doesn't get any better than right now - sitting in a swing state with front-row seats for one of the closest presidential election campaigns in history.

"This kind of election is why we do what we do as political analysts," says Eric Rademacher, director of public polling for the Ohio Poll. "A closely contested race like this one makes our jobs more exciting. Both campaigns have clearly done their homework in Ohio, which has resulted in a campaign that looks very much like a world-class chess match. Trying to determine how this strategy, the heavy get-out-the-vote efforts and appeals to independent voters will ultimately shape the election outcome in Ohio continues to be a very stimulating intellectual exercise."

The Ohio Poll, which is sponsored by UC and conducted by UC's Institute for Policy Research (IPR), has been widely watched as political observers look for clues on what is going on within the Ohio electorate. The most recent round of polling, released in late September, showed George W. Bush with a four-percentage point lead over Al Gore among Ohio voters. Results also showed that no one or two issues carried enough importance for voters to swing their preferences in one direction or the other.

"Success in Ohio for either Gore or Bush really comes down to an ability to attract voters across a wide range of issues, as opposed to any one issue," explains Rademacher. "It's a very difficult task."

The most recent Ohio Poll came out prior to the start of the debates. Two more Ohio Polls will be conducted prior to the Nov. 7 election.

Kim Downing, director of research services for the Ohio Poll and an expert in political communication, is closely watching the debates for developments that could influence the key audience of undecided voters.

"Debates provide the opportunity to see both candidates together which is most useful to undecided voters," Downing says. "It's the one time to hear the candidate not in a sound bite or packaged in an advertising campaign. That could be very significant this year. It could come down to how they look, sound, respond to questions and to each other."

Both Downing and Rademacher have been sharpening their analysis skills in recent weeks. They co-hosted a national on-line chat session during the Vice Presidential candidates' debate on Oct. 5, and have been fielding media requests from as far away as Switzerland and Japan.

"There's a great deal of respect for the Ohio Poll, the IPR and the University of Cincinnati among national and statewide journalists and political observers," says Rademacher. "That's probably the best thing about the attention this year. It's clear many people across the country and even the world have a high respect for what we do, and that's very gratifying for all the people who work here."

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