Our Ohio poll this week is a pretty good indication of the extent to which Democrats will sink or swim this fall depending on Barack Obama's popularity.
Ted Strickland has poor approval numbers right now but he's still leading John Kasich 79-4 with voters who approve of Obama. At the same time he's down 72-7 with voters who disapprove of Obama. There's almost total correlation between how people feel about Obama and how they're planning to vote for Governor and that makes you wonder how much of Strickland's trouble he really owns personally and how much of if it is just because people aren't that thrilled with the President.
It's a similar story in the Senate race. Jennifer Brunner's up 76-7 with voters who approve of Obama and down 65-8 with voters who don't. Lee Fisher's up 77-4 with folks who like Obama and down 71-5 those who don't.
Because feelings about the President are so polarized it seems to be having an impact on how willing voters folks are to support a candidate across party lines. That's a big part of Blanche Lincoln's problem in Arkansas right now. She got reelected in 2004 because people were willing to vote for her even as they voted against John Kerry. But voters don't seem to be separating her from Obama in their minds that much this year and although there is no doubt much of her trouble right now is self inflicted the reality is that she may have no chance this year no matter what she does because of Obama's unpopularity in the state.
There's no doubt Obama's numbers will be the biggest factor shaping this fall's results.