A new poll from Quinnipiac University is out Monday, and it will surely cause Ohio Republicans to look for their worry beads. In the 2016 U.S. Senate race in the Buckeye State, former Gov. Ted Strickland, who GOP forces have tried to tar and feather early, leads U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, elected in 2010 at the height of the Tea Party storm, 48 – 39 percent.

Maybe even more distressing for national and state Republican leaders is that by a margin of 50-32 percent, Independent voters back Mr. Strickland. At a recent  gathering of Democrats in Columbus, Ted Strickland ticked off a laundry list of issues he said voters stand with him on. He brought down the house when he said debating Republicans has come down to “debating reality.”

Strickland Pummels Portman

According to the poll, Ohio voters approve 49 – 23 percent of the job Portman is doing and give him a 38 – 18 percent favorability rating. Meanwhile, Strickland has a 49 – 29 percent favorability rating, while 89 percent of voters haven’t heard enough about the second Democrat to declare against Portman, P.G. Sittenfeld of Cincinnati, to form an opinion of him.

“Gov. John Kasich’s strong cache with Ohio voters isn’t helping his fellow Republican, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, who trails former Gov. Ted Strickland in a head-to-head matchup,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll. “One reason may be that Portman, who is now finishing his first term in the U.S. Senate, is not all that well-known to voters. Only slightly more than half of voters say they know enough to have an opinion of him. Strickland, who has been out of office since 2010, is very well-known. Three quarters have an opinion and it is favorable by 20 percentage points.”

Portman does lead another possible Democratic challenger, Cincinnati City Council member P.G. Sittenfeld, who preceeded Strickland in declaring his candidacy to take on Portman. The Q-Poll said Portman leads the little known Sittenfeld 47 – 24 percent.

Kasich Not  Firewall

As one of his reasons to elect him back in 2010, Citizen John Kasich said he would serve as a firewall to a second term for President Barack Obama. That promise turned out to be more wishful thinking as the president won Ohio again in 2012 by a majority of the vote. Ohio Gov. John Kasich will no doubt tout his 61 – 28 percent job approval rating in New Hampshire when he goes there soon to be with the many other GOP hopefuls who want the nomination next year. But there is a undeniable disconnect between the governor’s fortunes and those of Republicans.

And for the only Democrat to win a statewide office since 2006, Sen. Sherrod Brown enjoys a voter approval rate of 52 – 27 percent.

Pot Luck

This Q-Poll also looked at what voters in three critical swing states, Florida, Ohio an Pennsylvania, think about the legalization of medical marijuana. Republicans from Gov. Kasich on down say they are opposed to any attempt to legalize the growth, testing, sale and regulation of marijuana. Pot luck will be with those who say its time to stop the fruitless and futile decades-old war on the plant. According to today’s Q-Poll, by margins of 5-1 or more [84-15], those polled not only support it’s legalization but they also support legalization of recreational marijuana use by smaller margins. Support for allowing adults “to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use” is 52 – 44 percent in Ohio.