11/20/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Joe The Plumber Tanks In Swing States

Campaign aides to John McCain told the New York Times last week that "Joe the Plumber" would form the bedrock of their strategy for the rest of the race:

Mr. McCain's advisers said that in his speeches, television advertisements and mailings, he would seize on a remark Mr. Obama made in an encounter with an Ohio voter, Joe Wurzelbacher, who had pressed him to explain his support for a tax increase for upper-income filers. Mr. Obama responded by saying he wanted to "spread the wealth." Mr. McCain repeatedly invoked that encounter with the man, whom he called "Joe the Plumber," during the debate on Wednesday.

Has it worked? Not exactly. A Suffolk University poll of Ohio and Missouri finds that name recognition of "Joe the Plumber" is very high in both states -- but only a handful of voters said it made them more likely to vote for the Republican candidate. In Ohio, 68% of respondents had heard the Joe story. Six percent said it made them more likely to vote for McCain; four percent said it made them more likely to vote for Obama. In Missouri a whopping 80% knew of Joe. Eight percent were more likely to vote McCain as a result; 3 percent more likely to vote Obama. In both states, vast majorities said the plumber's story did not affect their decision at all. Meanwhile, Obama is leading McCain in Ohio and is nearly tied with him in Missouri. More from the poll:

With just over two weeks left before the presidential election, voters in the key state of Ohio are giving the Democratic ticket of Barack Obama and Joe Biden a 9-point lead (51 percent-42 percent) over the Republican ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin, according to a poll released today by Suffolk University.

In Missouri, McCain led by 1 percent (45 percent to 44 percent) statewide. He also led the bellwether test of Platte County, Mo.

"If Ohio goes for Obama, it may be lights out for McCain," said David Paleologos, director of the Political Research Center at Suffolk University in Boston. "At least today, the probability of an Ohio win is supported by the high-single-digit lead in the statewide poll coupled with the Perry County bellwether, which showed Obama leading by 4 percent."

In 2008, Suffolk University bellwethers were 95 percent accurate in predicting straight-up winners in both Democratic and Republican primaries, and, when coupled with statewide Suffolk polls, were 100 percent accurate in predicting straight-up winners.