While there has been no polling data yet available, there is evidence that the Strickland candidacy announcement has already profoundly changed the national perception of the race. Larry Sabato is the Director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics and is a frequent guest on all of the MSM cable news political shows to offer his insight and predictions for various key elections across the nation.
In Sabato's latest prediction regarding the 2006 Ohio Governor's race, he states:
"Republicans so dominate the statewide picture in 2004's ultimate Presidential toss-up state that an analyst is tempted to call the 2006 Governor's race for the GOP right now. And that would be foolish.
"True enough, Republicans have three strong candidates in Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell (an African-American), State Auditor Betty Montgomery, and state Attorney General Jim Petro. On the other side, Democratic Congressman Ted Strickland has decided to run for the gubernatorial nomination. He becomes the instant frontrunner over Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman and former state Attorney General Lee Fisher.
"Strickland, a psychologist by training and an energetic, bright House member, represents a moderate, rural-suburban district that has taught him how to win swing voters. Strickland's entry is good news for the Democrats. He is exactly the kind of Democrat who might be able to win statewide. If he can do so, his victory will have clear, positive effects for national Democrats as they try to push the Buckeye State into their column for President in 2008."
I honestly don't know if the Ohio Democratic Party knows how to act when it has a real race on its hands. I've also read on the wire services that President and Sen. Clinton and DNC Chair Howard Dean all contacted Strickland to personally encourage him to run.
How broad is Strickland's electoral appeal in Ohio? Well, consider this entry on the Ohioans for Concealed Carry's website:
Meanwhile, the Ohio GOP is already sharpening their knives, having all but forgotten about Coleman in the rush to review Strickland's voting record:
"But Republicans are undaunted and say Strickland's record will speak for itself. Though many call him a moderate Democrat, Strickland's positions on issues such as social security and foreign policy are as far left as those of Massachusetts senators Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, said Jason Mauk, an Ohio Republican Party spokesman.
"'I'd be surprised if the majority of constituents in his district actually know where he stands on key issues," Mauk said. "Congressman Strickland certainly has a record that is at odds with the majority of Ohioans; we look forward to sharing that record with the voters.'"
But as the Youngstown Vindicator described Strickland's views:
"Strickland voted to ban partial-birth abortions, supports the right to bear arms and is a vocal advocate for fair trade, veterans and seniors."
Wow, what an out-of-touch lefty this guy is. Oh, and he's for balancing the budget and fiscal accountability and discipline. Yeah, we know how voters hate veterans, seniors, and fiscal conservatism. The Democrats really have no chance.
If the GOP thinks it can hold onto the Ohio Governorship by blasting Congressman Strickland's anti-privatization Social Security views, I say: