Polls show upswing toward GOP among Ohio voters

According to two polls released this week by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, "the Democratic wave that swept through Ohio in 2006 and 2008 may be cresting."

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland's lead over former Congressman and Fox News show host John Kasich in the 2010 race for reelection has evaporated into a 40 - 40 percent tie, with Ohio voters seeing the possible Republican challenger as better able to handle rebuilding the state economy and handling the budget.

The latest survey marks a substantial swing in momentum since September, when the university found Strickland with a 10 point lead.

The poll also found the number of Ohio voters who approve or disapprove of the job Strickland is doing is divided within in the 2.9 percent margin of error, with 43% saying they disapprove. This marks Strickland's lowest overall score ever. And by a 43 - 32 percent margin, voters say the Governor has not kept his campaign promises.

"When Quinnipiac University first began asking about a Strickland-Kasich race for Governor in February, the incumbent held a 56 - 26 percent lead over his challenger. Now they are dead even. Obviously a lot has changed: the Governor's own ratings have gone down more than the challenger's have come up," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Moreover, when voters are asked who could do a better job handling the state budget and rebuilding the state economy they say Kasich. We still have a year to go, but Kasich is in much better shape than one could have imaged earlier this year."

Ohio voters give Strickland a split 38 - 37 percent favorability - his worst ratio ever. Kasich, on the other hand, is a virtual unknown by comparison, with 69 percent saying they don't know enough about him to have an opinion.

"This race is about Ted Strickland. Because so few voters have a firm fix on Kasich, the campaign is likely to be a race to define him in the eyes of most voters," Brown added. "That will mean the Strickland campaign will be trying to convince those seven in 10 voters who don't know enough about Kasich that he isn't their kind of guy," said Brown. "In plain language that means we're likely to see a strongly negative campaign from both sides, as Kasich will almost certainly dwell on the alleged shortcomings of the Governor's record."

The source of Strickland's suffering poll numbers sees tied directly to Ohio's suffering economy, with voters saying they disapprove of his handling of the economy 52 - 33 percent. When asked who could do a better job rebuilding the economy, 41 percent say Kasich; 33 percent Strickland. And voters say 42 - 34 percent that Kasich would do a better job handling the state budget.

"These numbers, even though they favor the challenger, say a lot more about Ted Strickland than they do about John Kasich because so few Ohioans know that much about him," said Brown.

The Ohio legislature, in which Democrats control the House and Republicans the Senate, gets a thumbs down from 47 percent of voters and is viewed positively by 33 percent.

The drop in Governor Strickland's poll numbers is matched by a significant drop in Buckeye state voters' views of President Obama. Quinnipiac found that Ohio voters disapprove 53 - 42 percent of the way the President is handling the economy and disapprove 57 - 36 percent of the way he is handling health care.

Additionally, Republican Rob Portman, a former Congressman running for the U.S. Senate, is inching ahead of the two Democrats in the 2010 race. Portman now leads Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner 38 - 34 percent and Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher 39 - 36 percent. In the battle for the Democratic Senate nomination, Fisher gets 24 percent to Brunner's 22 percent, with 51 percent undecided. Portman leads car dealer Tom Ganley 26 - 7 percent in a GOP primary with 64 percent undecided.

"The Democratic wave that swept through Ohio in 2006 and 2008 may be cresting. The Democratic lead in the Governor's and Senate races has evaporated and for the first time President Barack Obama is under water in the most important swing state in the country," concluded Brown.

Click here and here for complete poll results.

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