Ohio is a toss-up for the 2020 presidential election, and the Democrats have a good chance to take the pivotal state if they can focus on the right issues and put forward the right candidate. Those are among the findings of the recent “Northern Poll” conducted by Ohio Northern University.

The online poll surveyed 1,505 registered Ohio voters between April 5 and April 10 with a margin of error of 2.7 percent. It was conducted by ONU students under the tutelage of Robert Alexander, professor of political science, and was funded, in part, by Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society.

According to results of the poll, President Donald Trump is not popular in Ohio despite winning the state with 51.7 percent of the vote in 2016, compared to 43.6 percent for Hillary Clinton. (Libertarian Gary Johnson won 3.2 percent.)

The recent Northern Poll shows that 50 percent of Ohioans are dissatisfied with how Trump is handling his job as president, compared to 35 percent being satisfied and 15 percent who are neutral. Outside of his party, Trump is especially vulnerable. While 71 percent of Republicans polled are satisfied with Trump’s performance, only 5 percent of Democrats and 23 percent of independent voters feel favorably toward the commander in chief.

Similarly, a majority of Ohioans (52 percent) believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, while just 31 percent say it is headed in the right direction. 

Another warning sign for Trump can be seen when respondents were asked who they would support for president if the election were to be held right now. Forty-one percent said they would support a Democrat, 34 percent would support Trump, and the rest were either unsure or said they would support neither party.

Even within the GOP, Trump’s support is measured, with 36 percent of Republicans preferring that another Republican candidate challenge Trump in the primary. Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich is the top choice as a challenger.

The top Democrat candidates, according to the poll, are Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. Among Democrats, Biden scores highest with a 66 percent approval rating, with Sanders coming in second at 55 percent. Among all respondents, Biden is seen as having the best chance to defeat Trump in 2020 by far. In fact, 52 percent see Biden as having the best chance to defeat Trump, while Sanders comes in second with 25 percent, and Beto O’Rourke comes in third at 10 percent. 

In terms of issues, the three most important concerns to voters are health care, immigration and the economy. That ranking is fairly similar for independents. Republicans are most concerned about, in order, immigration, health care, the economy and national security. Democrats are focused on health care, the economy, gun control, immigration and income disparity.

“The data from this poll suggest that Trump has a drag in Ohio, which is critical to his retaining the presidency,” Alexander said. “While many are putting the state in Trump’s win column for 2020, it seems that is premature. His approval/disapproval ratings are especially stunning, given the state’s relatively healthy economy, which is usually a president’s best ally in terms of popularity. Unless perceptions of Trump improve dramatically, Ohio will once again be a purple state in 2020. Democrats should focus on the issues that are most important to voters, such as health care and the economy, and put forward a candidate who Democrats can rally behind but who is also seen as credible to more moderate voters. Right now, it appears independent voters are looking for an alternative, and they are ripe for the picking for Democratic strategists.”

Concerns over Trump’s credibility will to cast a dark shadow over his reelection bid heading into 2020 with Ohio voters. 

“The survey indicates that a plurality of voters looks at the Mueller report favorably, and this poll was taken before the release of the full report. My sense is that the credibility of the report has probably grown some since then, which will likely add to concerns over Trump’s leadership. So, although Trump dodged collusion charges from the report, his already-damaged image may have taken some more hits.