The Ohio Governor's race is looking like it could go either way three days out from the election. Ted Strickland has made a huge comeback in the final months of the campaign and now trails John Kasich only 49-48. PPP's most recent previous poll, in late August, had found Strickland trailing by 10 points.
What Strickland has done over the last two months is bring the base home. He's now winning 87% of the Democratic vote, up from only 78% in the previous poll. Democrats also look like they'll now account for a larger share of the electorate, as the party's voters have increased their interest in turning out as the election has moved closer.
Even though Strickland has closed in the enthusiasm gap is still a significant issue for Democratic prospects in the state. Those saying they're likely to vote this year report having supported John McCain by 3 points in 2008, in contrast to Barack Obama's actual 4 point victory in the state last time. That suggests there are still a lot of Democratic voters in Ohio planning to sit at home this year- if the final electorate ends up being even just a point or two more Democratic than we're anticipating it could end up being enough to put Strickland over the top.
If Kasich does end up winning it will be because he, like most Republican candidates nationally and particularly in the Midwest, is cleaning up with independents. He has an 18 point lead with them at 56-38.
Even though he's made up a lot of ground in the last couple months Strickland remains a pretty unpopular Governor. Only 41% of voters say they approve of the job he's doing while 50% disapprove. Usually those kinds of numbers would pretty much guarantee a loss for an incumbent. But Ohio voters' attitude towards Kasich, as it has been throughout most of the cycle, is 'meh.' 43% of voters like him and 42% of voters don't. That's giving Strickland room to pick up support from some voters who aren't that enthralled with the job he's done.
While the Governor's race in Ohio is all the sudden looking very interesting the Senate race is headed for a blowout. Rob Portman leads Lee Fisher 57-39. There's no doubt Fisher has proven to be a pretty weak candidate but with Barack Obama's approval spread in the state at 38/55 it's pretty doubtful that any Democrat could have won a Senate election in Ohio this year.
And despite all the initial concern about his Washington baggage and ties to the Bush administration Portman proved to be a pretty strong candidate. 50% of voters rate him favorably to only 25% with an unfavorable opinion. The most remarkable number on the Senate race is Portman's 37 point advantage with independents, at 66/29.
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