BEREA, Ohio — Throughout this election cycle, all relevant polls have shown President Trump trailing his Democratic rivals among voters in Ohio. That has now changed.
A new survey released by Baldwin Wallace University now shows Trump leading former Vice President Joe Biden, the current Democratic frontrunner, in the state by a spread of 47%-43%. Against fellow Dem challenger and Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, the president's margin grows even larger to 47%-41%.
It's a strong turnaround for Trump, who less than a year ago trailed Biden by eight points in the state. He is also buoyed by a relatively strong 51% approval rating among Ohioans, up three points from BW's last survey in January.
The new numbers come amid the global coronavirus pandemic that has gripped Ohio as well as the rest of the nation. While some have criticized the president's response to the crisis, 58% of state residents disagree and say they approve of his actions thus far. In addition, more voters feel Trump is doing a better job than either Biden or Sanders would do.
Although Biden currently has a solid lead in the Democratic delegate count, the race for the nomination remains up in the air. Among those in the poll who said they "may vote for or against Donald Trump depending upon whom the Democrats nominate," 53% preferred Biden over Sanders. (A recent NBC News poll showed Biden with a massive lead in Ohio's Democratic primary).
Biden and Sanders are both trying to hit Trump on healthcare policy as the number of coronavirus cases in America grows. While they currently trail in the statewide polls, it appears they may have an opening: Even though Ohio voters gave the president good marks overall and in regards the pandemic, only 45% currently approve of his handling of healthcare policy. Respondents also chose healthcare as the issue they care about most this election season (34%), with the economy close behind (32%).
Trump won Ohio by eight points over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016, and no one has won a presidential election without winning Ohio since John F. Kennedy in 1960. Trump's victory in the state was part of a Midwestern shift that propelled him to the White House, and statistics show that has a good chance of happening again elsewhere.
BW (in partnership with both Ohio Northern University and Michigan's Oakland University) also polled voters in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, all states Trump took by narrow margins four years ago. In addition to Ohio, the president has a narrow 47%-45% lead over Biden in Pennsylvania (within the +/- 3.7% margin of error) and is tied in Wisconsin at 44%; Biden does lead Trump 47%-42% in Michigan, while Sanders' lead in that state is smaller, and the senator is also trailing the in president both Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by larger margins.
The Ohio primary is set to take place by mail through April 28, as the original was postponed due to the threat of coronavirus. You can view the full results of BW's poll and its methodology below: