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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: Portman Holds Substantial Lead Over Strickland In Ohio's Senate Race

 Incumbent Republican Rob Portman's has a substantial lead over Democratic challenger Ted Strickland in Ohio's U.S. Senate race, a Quinnipiac University Poll released Thursday morning said.

According to the poll, Portman leads Strickland, the former governor, by nine percentage points – 49 percent to 40 percent.

The pollsters pointed out that this latest poll can't be compared to Quinnipiac's earlier polls of registered voters because this one honed in on likely voters only.

A poll of registered voters by Quinnipiac in July had Portman, the Terrace Park Republican, up by seven percentage points.

The poll in Ohio's U.S. Senate race was one of three polls done in Senate races in key swing states. Poll of Senate contests in Pennsylvania and Florida were also included.

A very wide gender gap accounts for Portman's lead.

"The gender gap strongly favors Sen. Portman,'' said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll. "While the Republican Portman and the Democratic challenger Ted Strickland are evenly divided among women – an unusual outcome – Portman has a 19 point margin among men."

The Quinnipiac Poll said that in all three states, the incumbent Republican senators – Portman, Marco Rubio of Florida and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania – are running ahead of presidential candidate Donald Trump in their states.

"But if Trump continues to lag behind in the presidential race, that will make it more difficult for the Republican candidates, logic holds, up and down the ballot," Brown said.

But Portman, Brown said, "may have a strong enough lead to escape the Trump effect."

Michawn Rich, a spokeswoman for the Portman campaign, said momentum is on Portman's side.

"Momentum continues to grow behind our campaign as we highlight the results Rob is delivering for Ohio families and as we've gained multiple union endorsements and contacted over three million voters through our unprecedented door-to-door and phone programs,'' Rich said in a written statement.

David Bergstein, a spokesman for the Strickland campaign, said "the national environment is rapidly deteriorating around Portman; he's engulfed in a daily firestorm about his continued support for Trump; and he's facing a statewide, coordinated campaign infrastructure with no help from the top of his own ticket."

In Ohio, Quinnipiac surveyed 812 likely voters between July 30 and Aug. 7. The margin of error in the poll is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

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