Poll: GOP Primary Challenger Jim Renacci Leads Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine by 8 Percent

Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Ohio, prepares to vote at the Church of the Nazarene Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Wadsworth, Ohio. Across the country, voters headed to the polls Tuesday in one of the most high-profile midterm elections in years.
Ron Schwane/AP

Former U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH) leads Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine by 8 percent, a new poll conducted for Renacci’s campaign shows.

The internal poll of 800 likely GOP primary voters in Ohio shows Renacci in front in the governor’s race at 46 percent, while DeWine is trailing at 38 percent with 16 percent undecided. The survey was conducted from Jan. 11 to Jan. 13 this year, and has a margin of error of 3.46 percent—meaning Renacci’s lead is outside that margin.

“Jim Renacci is undefined to 42% of Ohio RPV, but he still leads the near universally-known Mike DeWine, 46% – 38%, in the GOP gubernatorial primary ballot,” the polling memo reads. “Renacci would only need to pick up a small portion of the undecideds (16%) to break the 50% mark. Jim Renacci is clearly in command of this race and his lead will only grow as he becomes more well-known.”

This poll, while a Renacci internal, seems to indicate serious warning signs for DeWine ahead of the fast-approaching May 3 primary in the Buckeye State. DeWine, a more establishment member of the GOP, served in the U.S. Senate for years and had been a proponent of mask mandates and lockdowns at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic for much longer than most other GOP governors nationwide, despite Ohio voting so heavily for former President Donald Trump both in 2016 and in 2020.

1-22 OH RPV Governor Memo by Breitbart News on Scribd

Trump’s former campaign manager Brad Parscale told Breitbart News that this survey spells serious trouble for DeWine. “DeWine’s numbers are a disaster because of his poor performance and anti-Trump agenda,” Parscale, who is advising Renacci’s campaign, said. “Jim Renacci is the only Trump candidate, and it is clear from the data that Mike DeWine is the anti-Trump candidate.”

When asked a more generic question as to whether respondents intend to vote to reelect DeWine or to get rid of him, 50 percent say they want him gone. Thirty-three percent said they will “definitely” vote against DeWine no matter who runs against him, and 17 percent said they “probably” would vote against him—for a total of 50 percent. Only 14 percent said they would “definitely” vote to reelect DeWine, while 18 percent said they “probably” would—for a total of 32 percent saying they want DeWine back—while 18 percent say they are unsure.

The polling memo from Fabrizio, Lee, and Associates addressed to “Renacci donors” found that Trump’s approval rating among Ohio Republicans is 89 percent with just 10 percent disapproving of the former president. Democrat President Joe Biden, conversely, has very high disapproval ratings at 90 percent disapproving while just 8 percent approve of the president.

Spelling trouble for DeWine, the Ohio governor’s favorability rating is 8 points underwater—with 52 percent viewing him unfavorably and 44 percent viewing him favorably. Renacci, on the other hand, has 40 percent who view him favorably and just 18 percent who view him unfavorably. Twenty-three percent of respondents have no opinion of Renacci and 19 percent say they never heard of him, suggesting that as Renacci gets out there more between now and the May 3 primary he could see his presumed advantage over DeWine widen—especially as more voters in the primary electorate tune in.

A DeWine loss in the GOP primary would send serious shockwaves through the political establishment early in the 2022 midterm election process—alongside Indiana, Ohio will be the first state in the union to fully complete its primaries on May 3. Texas voters will head to the polls on March 1 for primaries, but a slew of runoffs later in the spring is expected there.

Complicating matters for DeWine is a U.S. Senate primary for the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), as a highly competitive multi-way primary has emerged there. That Senate primary is likely to drive up turnout among energized GOP base voters who dislike DeWine, as candidates ranging from Josh Mandel to J.D. Vance to Bernie Moreno to Mike Gibbons to Jane Timken and more vie for a shot at representing Ohio in the U.S. Senate.

DeWine’s approval rating is slightly better than his favorability rating, but still underwater as only 48 percent approve of his job performance while 49 percent disapprove.

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