With GOP race a tossup, expect a lot more TV ads

Posted at 11:26 AM, Mar 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-10 00:59:39-05

CINCINNATI -- If there's one takeaway from two new polls released Wednesday, it's that the winner of next Tuesday's Republican presidential primary here is far from certain.

Which means you can expect to see a lot more TV ads -- in particular, both for and against businessman Donald Trump -- over the next few days.

A Quinnipiac University poll released early in the day found Trump’s lead among likely Republican primary voters widened to 38 percent, with Ohio Gov. Kasich polling at 32 percent. Last month, Quinnipiac had Trump leading Kasich 31 to 26 percent.

Sen. Ted Cruz, who many anti-Trump Republicans consider their best bet to defeat the businessman for the GOP nomination, polled in third place with 16 percent. Sen. Marco Rubio had 9 percent.

But a Fox News poll released Wednesday night gives Kasich a five-point lead over Trump, 34 percent to 29 percent.

MORE: Kasich's White House hopes ride on Ohio

Fox's poll puts Cruz at third, with 19 percent, and Rubio last with just 7 percent.

Fox's pollsters reached 806 likely Republican voters in the state between March 5 and 8. The poll's margin of error is 3.5 percent.

With his high favorability among Ohio Republicans, the Fox poll found only about 6 percent would refuse to vote for Kasich if he's the candidate come November. Trump, meanwhile, could expect a quarter of Ohio's Republicans to refuse to vote for him over a Democrat -- particularly important in a state considered a must-win for any GOP presidential candidate.

Kasich's home-state advantage also appears to help him among evangelical Christians, who have so far favored Cruz or Trump. In Ohio, though, Kasich led among that demographic 32 percent to Trump's 27 percent and Cruz's 23 percent, according to the Fox News poll.

Quinnipiac, meanwhile, found Kasich was the most popular candidate among women, leasing 36 percent to Trump’s 31 percent, but Trump led 44 to 29 percent among men. Trump also had wider margins of support among younger voters, while Kasich led among voters age 65 or older. Trump was also leading in Rubio’s home state of Florida with 45 percent to Rubio's 22 percent, according to the poll.

Quinnipiac found 5 percent of voters were still undecided, and 27 percent who named a candidate said they still might shift their support.

"The effort within the Republican Party to stop Donald Trump from winning the presidential nomination appears unlikely to stop him from taking Florida's delegate-rich winner-take-all primary,” Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said in a news release. “But that effort might have a better chance of success in Ohio where Gov. John Kasich is giving 'The Donald' a tougher run for his money."

PLUS: Ohio's GOP primary ballot creates confusion

Quinnipiac surveyed 685 Ohio likely Republican primary voters from March 2 to 7. The poll has a 3.7-percent margin of error.

Trump's schedule has him spending a lot of time in Ohio before the March 15 primaries; Kasich, meanwhile, has remained confident he'll win his home state.

Ohio Will Be Bombarded With Ads

One of the most vocal groups opposing Donald Trump is pelting Ohioans with $1 million in commercials over the next five days.

They're paid for by Our Principles PAC, a collection of wealthy donors and GOP strategists who want to keep the controversial New York businessman from becoming the party's presidential nominee.

The new ads attack Trump as a jobs outsourcer. Indeed, as Trump has acknowledged, some of his products been made in countries such as China.

The group also is spending $2 million in Florida, according to advertising tracker Kantar Media's CMAG.

Our Principles is supplementing its air war with voter calls and mail.