A new poll by University of Cincinnati/Ohio Newspaper Poll, known as the Ohio Poll, has Republican challenger John Kasich beating Democratic incumbent Ted Strickland by six points, 51-45%: http://www.daytondailynews.com/...
The results represent a seven point shift from the last Ohio Poll in October, which had Strickland leading by one point. The new poll is right in line with other published recent polls since November, which all have Kasich now leading by between 6 and 10 points. The RCP poll average is now Kasich +7.7.
These results continue a steady trend since polling of this race started roughly a year ago, at which point Strickland held a thirty point lead. The Ohio Poll, Quinnipiac, and Rasmussen have all shown a linear decline in Strickland's numbers since that time.
Clearly we are now beyond the "It's-an-outlier" denial phase employed by Ted-heads during the summer and fall. The trend continues downward for Strickland across all the published polls, Kasich now tops 50%, the proportion of swayable undecideds is shrinking, and Strickland has now played his big cards -- those being a a supposed big announcement gala two weeks ago, and the naming of a running mate.
The gala came off glumly, since it followed a seven-month state budget standoff with the Republican Senate, and the running mate announcement seemed to feed a GOP talking point when the state GOP chairman was able to say convincingly that Strickland had been forced to go with his eighth choice.
The decrepitude of the Strickland campaign was on display this week when Ted visited the lovely town of Circleville, to celebrate the expansion of a Dupont chemical plant. Ballyhooed as a counterbalance to the hundreds of thousands of jobs the state has lost, the expansion will bring only 80 jobs, for the manufacture of a "plasticlike film" named -- I kid you not -- Tedlar! One can only speculate on the tax breaks Dupont won in secret negotiations with that branding.
Things look to significantly worsen for the Governor as we head into a new and even deeper state budget crisis, as unemployment compensation from the first big round of layoffs expires, and as Ohio's newspapers and the state GOP warm-up for the summer revelations of sensational Democratic corruption scandals, some of which are already brewing.
Meanwhile, the Ted-heads are deeper in denial than Rod Blagojevich caught as a kid with the cookie jar. Anastasia Pantsios, writing on the Ohio Daily Blog, said about a week ago that she's confident Strickland is "a shoo-in" (sic). A certain "Ted is a popular guy" nostalgia has set in, reminiscent of the Russian peasants who still religiously leave flowers at monuments to Brezhnev and Stalin. (Less excusable, however, because Brezhnev and Stalin both provided full employment.)
Not everyone is oblivious to what is happening. A series of shake-ups on the prospective 2010 Democratic ballot reveal the civil war that is happening within the Ohio Democratic Party, with the Strickland machine taking hit after hit. First, Strickland's hometown hand-picked congressional candidate in OH-02 was forced to withdraw in the face of a corruption scandal first reported by yours truly. (Check my blogroll or tag Todd Book).
Then, the Massachusetts Maelstrom had the nonintutive effect of dooming the candidacy of Strickland's horse in the Senate primary race, Lee Machine-Man Fisher. All the smart money is now on dynamo streetfighter Jennifer Brunner.
Now, another candidate from Tedland, Jennifer Garrison, who had seemed a "shoo-in" as the party's nominee for Secretary of State, is in serious trouble, attacked by all progressives for her militant anti-abortion and anti-gay stances. Plunderbund.com reports a "rumor" that Garrison will withdraw, and be replaced by Sharon Neuhardt, a dynamic spic-and-span true progressive from Yellow Springs, as anti-Machine as they come. Let's hope the rumor is true.
In short, the Strickland Machine is coming undone in anticipation of the Ted-man's coming dethronement.
The real drama now will be how a pretty darned good down-ticket Democratic line-up can distance itself from the pre-ordained loser at the top of the ticket. Or, as I still think will happen, how the party will get Ted off the ticket as he continues to poison the blue brand in Ohio.
And to be crystal clear: It's not that Mr. Strickland is destined to lose this election. It's that Mr. Strickland SHOULD lose this election. He's capped his career with a stint as governor marked by dishonesty, dishonor, incompetence, and catering to special interests.
I don't want to hear how bad John Kasich is. John Kasich isn't running as a Democrat. Kasich will not destroy the fortunes of Democratic candidates who deserve a defensible brand -- and that includes Barack Obama, who may wind up needing Ohio in 2012.
Get off the ballot, Ted, while the getting is good.