OH-07: Neuhardt (D) Internal Polling Shows Close Race

Confounding the conventional wisdom that OH-07 is a "safe" Republican seat, the campaign of business attorney Sharen Neuhardt (D-Yellow Springs) has released internal polling showing that her open seat race against State Sen. Steve Austria (R-Austria) is within 6 points, indicating a winnable contest:

41% Austria (R)
35% Neuhardt (D)
24% Undecided

Neuhardt's pollster, Cooper & Secrest Associates, Inc., notes these additional positive numbers from the poll, which has a margin of error of 4.4 points:

* A generic Democrat defeats a generic Republican by 13 points, 46% to 33%.

* Neuhardt is at a mere 6% deficit with only 33% name recognition, and after presentation of a full and balanced paragraph of information about each candidate it becomes a statistical tie -- Neuhardt 46%, Austria 45%.

* George Bush's personal appeal is rated negatively by 64% of respondents ("very negatively" by 53%) and his job performance rating is 76% negative (54% "poor").

* McCain and Obama are in a statistical tie at 43% to 40%.

This poll is confirmation that in the current political climate, even traditionally red districts are not safe for the GOP, as demonstrated by three successive Democratic victories special elections in Repulican strongholds this year.

In a press release, campaign manager Jim Alexee calls this district a "diamond in the rough" as Neuhardt "holds her own" against the incumbent's chosen successor:

As home to several competitive congressional races, and a focus for both presidential campaigns, Ohio is political ground zero in 2008. What no one ever expected is that Sharen Neuhardt's campaign for Ohio's 7th Congressional District would be the little engine that could.

The 7th Ohio Congressional District is in south central Ohio and consists of all or a portion of Clark, Fairfield, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Perry, Pickaway, Ross Counties. It includes the cities of Lancaster, Xenia, Circleville and Springfield, as well as certain southwest southeast suburbs of Columbus. It has a PVI of R+6.0 and Bush won 57% of the vote in 2004. Incumbent Dave Hobson, who announced his retirement on October 14, 2007, defeated repeat challenger Bill Conner (D) by 61% to 39% in 2006.

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