Marc Kovac - Who's up for reading another political poll?

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The only thing people love more than the constant barrage of political ads that comes in the months before a presidential election is the constant barrage of political polls touting the likely result of those presidential elections.

And by "love" I mean "hate."

It's not even September, and people I run into are already commenting on how sick they are of the robo-calls, the television commercials and the radio spots from backers of the major party candidates facing off in November.

They're also sick of polls. Seemingly everyday there's a new one giving President Barack Obama or former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney or Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown or Republican state Treasurer Josh Mandel the lead heading into the home stretch.

I know how much people hate polls based on their reaction to stories written about such polls. If they favor the Democratic incumbents, readers allege liberal bias and claim you're in cahoots with those on the left side of the political aisle and out of touch with mainstream America.

If the polls favor the GOP challengers, die-hards from the other part of the political spectrum say you've thrown your lot in with Tea Partiers and radicals and [insert other inflammatory stereotype title here].

Criticism of poll coverage is sometimes warranted in cases where reporters give credence to rigged surveys. That's why it's important to be selective in which polls you publicize.

I focus on two: the University of Cincinnati's infrequent Ohio Poll and the Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University's regular surveys of registered Ohio voters' positions on candidates and issues. The latter has been doing this in Ohio for years, and its results are often within the margin of error when compared to the final results on Election Day.

New polls from both were released last week, with different snapshots of where Ohioans stand on the race between Obama and Romney.

The Quinnipiac University Polling Institute gave Obama the edge in Ohio and two other swing states, while the University of Cincinnati's Ohio Poll called the race a "toss-up."

The former put Obama ahead of Romney 50 percent-44 percent among 1,253 likely voters, with a margin of error of about 3 percent.

The University of Cincinnati, meanwhile, also had Obama ahead of his GOP challenger, but by a closer margin of 49 percent-46 percent. That's among 847 likely voters, with a margin of error of 3.4 percent, so it's essentially a dead heat.

The two also had slightly different results on issues. In the Ohio Poll, respondents said Romney would do a better job dealing with government spending and the economy while preferring Obama on foreign policy and Medicare issues.

Those questioned by Quinnipiac, also favored the president on Medicare, but they evenly split between the two candidates on the economy.

What does all of this mean for Ohioans, other than making people mad that they have to read another poll?

Maybe not much -- there's still a lot of time before Nov. 6. But here's one interesting tidbit: A lot of voters have already made up their minds about their candidate of choice.

Judging by their near-weekly appearances in the state, Obama and Romney are fighting hard and spending an awful lot of money to win the hearts of a dwindling number of undecided voters.

(Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.)

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