COLUMBUS - Gov. Ted Strickland maintains a slim lead over Republican challenger John Kasich among potential Ohio voters, according to the latest Quinnipiac Poll released yesterday.
The Democratic incumbent, who is seeking a second term, leads Mr. Kasich 44 percent to 38 percent in the poll. The results are just outside the poll's margin of error of 2.5 percentage points and mark the governor's strongest position since last September, when he had a 10-point lead.
Neither candidate has demonstrated momentum. Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said Mr. Strickland has reason to worry more than six months out from the Nov. 2 gubernatorial election.
"Only 37 percent of voters say he has kept his campaign promises, and the race remains close even though 62 percent of voters don't know enough about Mr. Kasich to have an opinion of him," he said. The governor's favorability rating dropped a point since last month to 45 percent while Mr. Kasich's rose three points to 27 percent.
Despite Mr. Strickland's lead in the poll, 41 percent of the 1,568 registered voters questioned said they believe Mr. Kasich would do a better job with the economy than Mr. Strickland, at 39 percent.
The poll regularly tracks political conditions in several battleground states, among them Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania. It showed that half of Ohio voters disapprove of the performance of President Obama in a state likely to be part of his game plan to win re-election in 2012.
"Ohio is upholding its reputation as a battleground state," Mr. Brown said. "Democrats seem to have a slight edge in key races, but those leads are small and have gone back and forth in recent months. As has historically been the key in Ohio elections, the undecided vote, many of whom are independents, could well hold the balance of power come November."
In hypothetical contests, the poll has each of the two Democrats vying for their party's nomination in Tuesday's primary election for U.S. Senate locked in statistical dead heats with Republican former congressman Rob Portman in November. Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher leads Mr. Portman 40 percent to 37 percent while Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner's lead is 40 percent to 36 percent. Both remain within the poll's margin of error.
The poll also found:
•Democrats hold a higher favorability rating among Ohioans than do Republicans in general, 42 percent compared to 36 percent.
•Public support of the burgeoning Tea Party movement continues to gain steam with its favorability rating climbing three points to 38 percent over the last month.
Forty-four percent of those polled believe Mr. Obama has been a better president than his predecessor, George W. Bush. Thirty-four percent disagree while 19 percent say they've been about the same.
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