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

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.


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 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).

Comments () | Archives (4)

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I live in Ohio and the situation is dire.However far worse than the economy is the general mood of our citizens....sad and hopeless......The only light in the distance is Kasich

As an Ohioan, I do not necessarily think people broadly blame George Bush for all of their problems. Here are some things to consider: we have high taxes in Ohio, and it is particularly bad because companies are moving elsewhere and are not even considering Ohio as a location to move to. Organized labor has a strong hold in Ohio, so that means an increase in costs to business, not to mention union issues. Northeast Ohio particularly has strong union support, and companies simply do not want to deal with it when they can go south where the unions are not as influential.

Nothing has improved since these Dumbos took office. Remember, these guys has full control of Congress for two years prior to the November elections. I do hold Bush responsible for not standing up to the runaway spending bills of both parties; however, it is the Dumbos who have brought this economy into the tanks. It excellerated downward under Barry.

Strickland is in trouble because he has proven himself to be much less a centrist than he seemed to be. His position has been further eroded by his stepford-like support of the Obama/Reid/Pelosi agenda. He was opposed to allowing the casinos to build here, even though we desperately need the jobs and tax revenue they represent. Fortunately, the people did pass the measure.
In the beginning, I had high hopes for Strickland....especially after the total incompetance of Taft. Unfortunately he is not living up to the hope.
If Kassich is elected, I think he will prove to be a centrist problem solver that lives in the real world, not the idealogical one.
Having lived my entire life in Ohio, I am speaking from first hand observation.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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