I'm not going to lie- when we put out our poll a few weeks ago showing Ted Strickland with a mediocre approval rating and barely leading John Kasich I felt very queasy about it because it was so far outside the conventional wisdom of where that race stands. It's never easy to be first on that front, so it's a little reassuring that Quinnipiac and Research 2000 have now shown similar results even if I personally wish Strickland was in a more solid position.
R2K showed Strickland leading Kasich by 5, while our poll showed him up by just two. But I actually thought their poll was more worrisome for the Democrat than ours.
That's because we had the race tied among white voters. If a Democrat running statewide in Ohio can earn a split among white voters they win overall, end of story. Strickland's weak standing in our numbers had a lot to do with his leading only 52-28 among African Americans. I do think he has some real work to do there because when we polled the race in January it showed the same thing and Obama's approval rating with blacks in the same poll was around 90% so it's not like we got an unusually conservative sample of them. That said, Democrats often under poll in that demographic, especially this far out from an election, and it would be a surprise if Strickland didn't end up winning at least 80% of the black vote. That would push his lead in our survey up to 7 or 8 points.
The Research 2000 poll from yesterday though showed Strickland in a much weaker position with whites, trailing Kasich by seven points among them. It is possible for an Ohio Democrat to lose under those circumstances if black turnout is low or they just never really do get behind the party's candidate. Strickland was already doing well with African Americans in the R2K poll so there's a lot less room for improvement in that one than there was in our survey.
I don't know if something has genuinely changed for Strickland among whites in the three weeks between our poll and when this newer one was conducted or if it's just a methodological difference but either way it's not a good sign for his political standing right now. Of course it's a long way to November 2010.