Up 'til now, John Kasich has been playing nice.
Since July they've ran four positive ads, one ad defending his time at Lehman, and one soft comparative ad with Mary Taylor.
The RGA has been running their ads discussing Strickland's record in their folksy, laid back manner.
What have we seen from Strickland and his allies? Harshly negative attacks on Kasich followed up by generally positive advertising.
Is Ted's strategy working? Perhaps.
A new poll out today from Fox News shows the race down to 45-43. That's down from 47-41 in the 9/18 Fox News poll and 48-43 in the same poll on 9/11.
In other words, in the past two and a half weeks of the Fox News poll, Ted has remained relatively static at 43 while Kasich has seen his support slightly decrease.
In news that will probably freak out the lefties, the Fox News poll seems to most closely resemble the recently released Ohio Poll. Partisan support is relatively the same and Independents are tight with Kasich up 40-36.
This poll may freak out some Kasich supporters. Don't let it.
Remember, Strickland still sits at below 45%. On Real Clear Politics, his average level of support is now up to 41.8%. As Eric Rademacher from the Ohio Poll said when their poll was released, "the fact is, for an incumbent governor, it's a little bit late in the year to be under 50 percent support."
Even if you take just the Fox News and the Ohio Poll into consideration, Ted's support stands at a lowly 44%. Exactly where polls have shown him for over a year. That's far below the vital 50%+1 barrier.
But that doesn't mean the Kasich team should necessarily keep doing what they are doing. It could be argued that support for Kasich is eroding. Why?
I'd argue that Ted's attacks are having an effect. While they aren't bringing Ted any new support, they are making it difficult for swing voters to embrace Kasich.
So what should Team Kasich do?
The Kasich team has already played the positive ad card, so perhaps it's time to draw a more stark contrast. The Kasich guys have already set their candidate up with months of positive ads, so going more negative won't be nearly as damaging as it is when you do it right out of the box. So let's very clearly show Ohio voters their choices.
Ted Strickland promised to Turnaround Ohio. That means he believed the Governor can greatly effect economic change within his state. Now Ohio has lost nearly 400,000 jobs and Ohioans are giving up looking for work at an increasing rate. Do the voters want more of the same? Do they like the status quo?
Let's ask them. But with less rosy music.
UPDATE: Just thought about something. Rob Portman is currently blowing away Lee Fisher. In the same Fox News poll as was released today showing the Governor's race tightening, it also showed Portman up 13.
In their 9/11 poll, Fox News showed Portman up 7. And what have we seen since then? Two new ads from Portman that have driven home Fisher's record as Lt. Governor and "Jobs Czar". And now he's up 13. Fisher hasn't had any substantive TV buys during that entire stretch, so what changed? The advertising angle. Talking about their opponent's record.
It worked so well for Portman that Larry Sabato was up on TV this morning telling a national audience that Democrats in DC have given up on Lee. Time to try it with Ted.