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0000017a-3b40-d913-abfe-bf44a4f90000Howard Wilkinson joined the WVXU news team as the politics reporter and columnist in April 2012 , after 30 years of covering local, state and national politics for The Cincinnati Enquirer. On this page, you will find his weekly column, Politically Speaking; the Monday morning political chats with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik and other news coverage by Wilkinson. A native of Dayton, Ohio, Wilkinson has covered every Ohio gubernatorial race since 1974, as well as 16 presidential nominating conventions. Along with politics, Wilkinson also covered the 2001 Cincinnati race riots, the Lucasville prison riot in 1993, the Air Canada plane crash at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in 1983, and the 1997 Ohio River flooding. And, given his passion for baseball, you might even find some stories about the Cincinnati Reds here from time to time.

Poll: Strickland, Portman In Dead Heat

The battle between incumbent Republican Rob Portman and Democratic challenger Ted Strickland for Ohio's U.S. Senate seat is a flat-footed tie, according to a poll released Wednesday morning.

The Quinnipiac University poll had both candidates with 42 percent support. The pollsters say the race has been too close to call for months. The full poll is available here.

Ohio's U.S. Senate race is considered crucial to Democrats' efforts to oust the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate.

According to the latest poll, Portman – despite being a former U.S. House member, a White House cabinet member and a U.S. Senator for over five years  - still has a substantial number of Ohioans who say they don't know enough about him to form an opinion.

His favorable rating is 39 percent and his unfavorable rating is 25 percent. But 34 percent said they haven't heard enough about him to know whether they like him or not.

Strickland, a former U.S. House member and a one-term Ohio governor, has a 42 percent unfavorable rating, while 38 percent say they have a favorable opinion and 19 percent said they don't know enough about him to form an opinion.

"The Ohio Senate race is unusual because it is the rare situation in which the challenger, former Gov. Ted Strickland, is better known than the incumbent being challenged,'' said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

But Brown also said the dead heat is "an improvement for Portman, who earlier in the campaign was down as much as nine points."

The poll also asked about approval ratings for Ohio Gov. John Kasich and President Obama.

Kasich, who ran for the GOP presidential nomination and failed, has a 58 percent approval rating among Ohioans, while 32 percent disapprove of the job he is doing.

Ohio voters are divided on President Obama, as 48 percent approve of the job he is doing and 50 percent disapprove. It is his best score in the Quinnipiac Poll in three years.

From June 8 through June 19, Quinnipiac polled 971 Ohio voters. The margin of error in the poll is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Howard Wilkinson is in his 50th year of covering politics on the local, state and national levels.