An aide says DeWine has always expected a close race.
By JEFF ORTEGA
COLUMBUS -- Two independent polls released Tuesday show Democratic U.S. Senate challenger Sherrod Brown with leads of either 7 or 12 percentage points over incumbent Republican Mike DeWine.
With about three weeks until the Nov. 7 election, the Quinnipiac University Poll shows Brown, a congressman from Avon, leading DeWine of Cedarville 53 percent to 41 percent among likely Ohio voters.
Meanwhile, the University of Cincinnati's Ohio Poll showed Brown leading DeWine 52 percent to 45 percent among likely voters.
A campaign aide to DeWine, a two-term incumbent, said DeWine has always expected a close race and plans on campaigning right up until Election Day.
"This has been a very close race, and this will remain a close race," said Brian Seitchik, a DeWine campaign spokesman.
The Brown campaign said it's pleased with the congressman's showing. "As Sherrod Brown travels the state and talks with Ohioans ... he's gained a lot of support," said Ben LaBolt, a Brown campaign spokesman.
Brown's showing in the Quinnipiac poll is an improvement from the last Quinnipiac poll released in late September in which Brown led DeWine by just 1 percentage point -- 45 percent to 44 percent.
Brown's showing dramatically increased among independents in the current Quinnipiac poll where he held a 58 percent to 34 percent advantage over DeWine. In the last Quinnipiac poll, DeWine led Brown among independents 43 percent to 40 percent.
Peter A. Brown, assistant director of Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said he believes Brown's showing among independents might be attributed to a swell of support for Democrats nationally.
The Quinnipiac University Poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points. Pollsters interviewed 901 likely voters by telephone from Oct. 10 through Sunday.
In the Ohio Poll, Brown improves his showing from the September results when he led DeWine 51 percent to 47 percent among likely voters.
Eric Rademacher, associate director of UC's Institute for Policy Research, said Brown's lead over DeWine isn't insurmountable and that much can happen in three weeks. "It's an eternity in electoral politics," Rademacher said.
Rademacher said he believes there will be much effort in the remaining weeks on Get-Out-The-Vote efforts and on campaign television advertising on both sides.
Ohio Poll researchers interviewed 526 likely voters from Oct. 9 through Saturday. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 4.3 percent.
In the Ohio governor's race, the Ohio Poll showed Democratic nominee Ted Strickland leading Republican J. Kenneth Blackwell 52 percent to 38 percent. The Quinnipiac Poll is to release its latest results on the governor's race today.