Huffpost Politics

Rob Portman, Ohio Senate Candidate & Former Bush Budget Director, Leads Dem Lee Fisher

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)-- Former Bush budget director Rob Portman is enjoying a commanding advantage over his Democratic rival, Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, in the race for Ohio's open Senate seat, according to a poll.

A Quinnipiac University survey released Friday shows Portman, a former Republican member of Congress, with a 20 percentage point lead over Fisher, a veteran of state politics who has seen his campaign founder. Fisher has badly lagged in fundraising, seen high turnover on his staff and drawn criticism from Washington Democrats who had hoped to flip the seat being vacated by GOP Sen. George Voinovich.

Portman garners 55 percent support, Fisher 35 percent in the poll taken Sept. 9 to Sept. 14. The poll of 730 likely voters has an error margin of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

While Fisher has had President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and other Democratic heavyweights visit the state to boost his campaign, the efforts seem to have not much helped.

The poll found six of 10 voters want a senator who opposes Obama's policies. That is a startling figure for the president, whose likely re-election campaign in 2012 will require a victory in Ohio if he is to earn a second term.

Outside groups, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Bush adviser-run American Crossroads, have spent heavily in the state to damage Fisher, who led the state's economic development programs as the recession began. Republicans hope to pin the state's unemployment on Fisher and Democrats - and not President George W. Bush, who was in the White House as the economy worsened in 2007 and 2008.

Portman served as Bush's budget director and then trade ambassador. He later was an adviser to Sen. John McCain's unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign.

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