By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN — Bill Morris of Poland doubts the accuracy of a statewide poll that shows Republican John McCain, whom he supports, barely ahead of Democrat Barack Obama — even though he participated in the survey.
The poll shows McCain ahead 48 percent to 46 percent, a statistical dead-heat because of the 3.3 percent margin of error. Morris said Obama, whom he isn’t supporting, will win Ohio.
“I don’t believe [McCain is] ahead,” said Morris, a retired Universal-Rundle Corp. executive. “I believe Ohio is going to vote for Obama. ... Unfortunately, it’s going to be the Democrats’ time this year.”
Morris is among 876 likely voters interviewed by telephone between Oct. 4 and Wednesday for The Ohio Newspaper Poll.
The poll is a partnership between the Ohio News Organization — consisting of the state’s eight largest newspapers, including The Vindicator — and the University of Cincinnati’s Institute for Policy Research.
Morris supports McCain because “I don’t want big government in my pocket. I’m a believer that big government takes away your money. I believe my taxes would go up if Obama is elected.”
Morris also said Obama doesn’t have the experience and is too liberal to be a successful president.
But Obama will win the election, he said, in part, because President Bush “has done a lot of damage and that will help the Democrats.”
Morris said that he disagrees with Bush on the economy and the war in Iraq and that the Republican president should have pushed for a Wall Street bailout sooner.
The latest Ohio Newspaper Poll shows the race between the two major-party candidates is tightening in Ohio, a key battleground state. A poll released Sept. 21 had McCain ahead in Ohio 48 percent to 42 percent.
In that first poll, McCain led Obama in every geographic region of the state, except Northeast Ohio.
Obama’s lead in the region shrunk from 9 percent to 6 percent over McCain.
But the Democrat’s support in northwest Ohio took a dramatic shift in his favor. Obama is leading in northwest Ohio by 12 percentage points. He trailed McCain by 21 percentage points in that region in the previous poll.
“It will be a close race till the end,” said Lisa Antonini, Mahoning County Democratic chairwoman.
Mark Munroe, Mahoning County Republican vice chairman, said he was somewhat surprised by the results, particularly those that show the race tightening in Northeast Ohio, because other polls of Ohio show Obama with a small lead. But Munroe added that he speaks to a number of Valley Democrats who are supporting McCain.
Obama and McCain participated in a televised town hall meeting Tuesday. That had “no impact” on the poll, Antonini said.
“It was a lackluster debate; there were no fireworks to sway people,” she said. “No one scored a knockout.”
Those polled were also asked a number of questions about the economy, including the Wall Street bailout; their concerns about losing their jobs and homes; the financial situation of Social Security; and whether they are economically better or worse off than their parent’s generation.
“Voters seem to trust Democrats more to help revive the economy,” Antonini said. “After eight years of Bush-Cheney, people are looking for change when it comes to their pocketbooks.”
Morris, who is retired, said Social Security’s financial situation “has major problems.”
He’s not alone. Of those polled, 63 percent said the same thing.
“I’m hoping it will be there for my kids,” Morris said.