Poll Shows Mixed Bag For Democrats in Ohio

A new poll shows it’s the best and worst of times for Democrats in the key swing state of Ohio. After several polls showing incumbent Gov. Ted Strickland (D) trailing former Rep. John Kasich (R) in the gubernatorial contest, a new poll from Quinnipiac University shows Strickland has retaken the lead. That’s good news for Democrats hoping to hang on to a key governor’s mansion in a tough year.

But at the same time, the poll shows President Obama’s approval rating has tanked in Ohio, a crown jewel of his 2008 sweep to the White House.The Q poll shows just 44% of voters in Ohio approve of the job Obama is doing, while 52% disapprove. According to the pollster, that’s the “biggest negative in any state or national survey” conducted by Quinnipiac since Obama was sworn into office.

The pollster says the drop could mean Obama has work to do if he wants to win Ohio again in 2012. “Given that President Obama carried the state with more than 51 percent of the vote,” Quinnipiac’s Peter Brown said in today’s release, “these numbers mean many Ohioans who were in his corner have now deserted him.”

The same can’t be said of Strickland. Where the once-popular Democratic governor seemed to be losing his edge to the conservative firebrand Kasich, the Q poll shows Strickland has made up ground on a number of fronts, including among independents. Despite Kasich’s appeal to the conservative wing of the Ohio’s independent voters, Kasich and Strickland split group 38-38.

Strickland still has work to do, however.

“The movement is a few points, but it is consistent across a number of measures,” Brown said of the Strickland numbers. “Voters, however, remain negative on his handling of the state budget and the state economy.”

More than 60% of voters say they don’t know enough about Kasich to decide whether they’d vote for him or not. That gives Kasich a lot of room to make up the ground he appears to have lost to Strickland in the latest poll.

Still the apparent surge is good news for Strickland, who also still has a lot of campaigning to do. It seems that despite a sliding economy and a tough environment for Democrats all around, Republicans can’t count on Kasich’s conservative credentials to deliver them an easy race.