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More governor trouble ahead for Obama Democrats? Now, Ohio's Strickland is slipping

January 26, 2010 |  1:30 am

Democrats Barack Obama, Ted Strickland and Michelle Obama in happier times

A new poll out of Ohio, which is called the Buckeye State but is really a political keystone state in this year's midterm election and beyond -- waves a large flag about Democratic hopes to hold the governor's office.

Ohio Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, like many incumbents across the country, is sliding into deep trouble when racked up against his Republican opponent, former Ohio congressman John Kasich.

According to the Ohio Newspaper Poll as published in the Dayton Daily News, Kasich currently leads Strickland 51-45. Last fall, despite earnest campaign efforts by the White House, Democrats lost control of the governors' offices in Virginia and New Jersey. Another three dozen are up this year.

StricklandHillaryap

Strickland was a staunch supporter of Hillary Rodham Clinton before he was a staunch supporter of Barack Obama, back in 2008.

In fact, Strickland's grass-roots forces, enthusiastic endorsement and political acumen helped her win a decisive 53-45 March primary victory there, which kept Clinton in the Democratic nomination struggle for another three bruising and expensive months.

Strickland, a 68-year-old former Methodist minister, surged into office four years ago with about 61% of the vote in this crucial Midwestern state.

But in the last couple of years Ohio's economy has gone farther south than all of Kentucky. And the latest state unemployment figures show the jobless rate increased from 10.6% in November to 10.9% in December, despite the best economic we-share-your-pain talking and ribbon-cutting by the Obama-Biden administration.

"Voters are going to want to hear about the economy first, the economy second and the economy third,” said Eric Rademacher, the poll's director.

Strickland's approval-disapproval is 50-45, but on the economy it's 54 disapprove and only 42 approving.

Ohioans still blame George W. Bush more than anyone or anything else for the poor economy. But he's not running for anything there just now. So the closest target for anger is the incumbent.

Some observers have suggested Strickland pull a Chris Dodd and retire to avoid dragging the statewide Democratic ticket down to an ignominious defeat. Currently,  the RealClearPolitics.com poll average has Kasich ahead by 7.7 points.

It's still about 10 months until election day. But 47% of Ohioans said their standard of living is worse now than it was 48 months ago.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Associated Press (the Obamas and Strickland in happier times); (Hillary Clinton and Strickland in happier times).

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