In a fresh Quinnipiac University Poll of registered voters in Ohio published on Wednesday, all four top Republicans beat Hillary Clinton. Dominating the poll was Ohio’s own Gov. John Kasich who leads Clinton 54 to 37 percent. In addition, Marco Rubio outperformed Clinton 47 to 43, Trump beat Clinton 44-42 and Ted Cruz beat the top Democrat candidate 46 to 43 percent.
For his part, independent socialist Bernie Sanders, who is also running for the Democratic nod, tied Republicans Trump and Cruz but was thrashed 54 to 35 by Kasich, while Rubio beat him 44 to 42.
Earlier today the Kasich campaign released a statement saying the poll, “serves as a stark reminder for Republicans who want to win the White House.” Republicans have never won the White House without winning Ohio. However, analysts say Republicans and Republican-leaning independents voting in the general election will likely coalesce behind whichever Republican is nominated to run against Clinton or Sanders.
Kasich, whose campaign is not well organized nationally, often alludes to Ohio as a must win state for Republicans. Nevertheless, the Buckeye governor is running a cash-strapped campaign with a limited path to the nomination. After failing to break through single digits in early primaries and caucuses, pundits are talking about Kasich as a possible vice presidential candidate, with some saying it may be time for him to drop out of the race altogether.
On the other hand, Rubio, yet to win a primary, is coming off a better-than-expected finish in South Carolina and has received a string of endorsements that promises to attract more donors to his campaign. With Super Tuesday drawing near, GOP contests have so far earned Trump 79 of the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the Republican nomination. Cruz has 16, Rubio has 15 and Kasich has five. Dr. Ben Carson picked up three delegates in Iowa.
The Quinnipiac poll may say more about the contest between Republicans and Democrats than anything. The poll shows both Democratic candidates faring poorly in most head-to-head matchups with Republicans, even though all except Kasich are within the margin of error. Ohio will be all important to the Democratic and Republican Partys’ efforts to win the White House.
The Kasich campaign continued to hit Republican Rubio, perhaps because the Florida senator is seen as the next rung in the political ladder. Kasich strategist John Weaver in a memo released on Nevada caucus night said,”Knowing the primary map will shift dramatically away from his campaign after March 5, Senator Rubio is spending money furiously now in a vain attempt to claim ‘momentum.’ It isn’t going to work.” Rubio’s caucus performance was “disappointing,” Weaver said. “Ultimately, all the Rubio strategy will produce is another case of donor’s remorse in a few weeks.” he added.
Wednesday’s new Ohio poll involved interviews Feb. 16 through 20 with 1,539 registered voters, with a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points.