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Published: Saturday, 10/23/2010

Strickland closing gap on Kasich

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

The race for governor of Ohio has narrowed to a 2 percentage-point gap as Democrats show more interest in an election that is now 10 days away, a poll commissioned by the Ohio Newspaper Organization has found.

Republican challenger John Kasich leads incumbent Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland 49-47 percent in the poll conducted by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati for the group of eight large-city newspapers in Ohio that includes The Blade.

In the U.S. Senate race, Republican Rob Portman holds a commanding lead of 58-39 percent over Democrat Lee Fisher — a chasm that parallels the fund-raising success Mr. Portman, a former congressman and Bush administration official, has had compared with Mr. Fisher, a former state attorney general and current lieutenant governor.

Eric Rademacher, co-director of the institute, said, “There's certainly an uptick in excitement on the Democratic side, which has allowed the race to become more competitive between Strickland and Kasich.

“It could break either way. Certainly it's the case that Democratic excitement is increasing in the latest poll, but Republican excitement is also very high,” Mr. Rademacher said.

Pollsters interviewed 839 likely voters by home phone and cell phone across the state between Oct. 14 and 18. The poll has a margin of error of 3.3 percentage points. Unlike the Senate race, Mr. Kasich and Mr. Strickland have each raised enough money to engage in a spirited campaign through heavy TV and direct mail advertising and live campaign events statewide.

Toledoan Heather Elliott said she's seen the ads and liked what they say about Mr. Strickland.

“I kind of like everything that he stands for. I think he's going to do what we need, and I just have a good feeling about him,” said Mrs. Elliott, 41, a billing clerk in a medical office and the mother of two teenagers.

“A lot of the [Strickland] commercials I have seen, maybe fair or unfair, they have swayed me against [Kasich],” she said.

Kasich supporter Jim Haboustak, 65, of South Euclid in Cuyahoga County, said the Republican has the right approach to the economy.

“I think taxes are too high and I think the whole state is overregulated and I think it's partly contributing to driving away businesses,” said Mr. Haboustak, a retired metallurgical engineer.

“I think we're due for a change. I don't appreciate Ted Strickland's policies, and I remember Kasich from when he was in Congress. I kind of liked his policies,” Mr. Haboustak said.



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