updated 10/18/2006 8:51:22 AM ET 2006-10-18T12:51:22

Democrat Ted Strickland has a nearly 2-1 lead over Republican Ken Blackwell with three weeks left in the race for governor, a poll released Wednesday shows.

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The Quinnipiac University poll found 59 percent of likely Ohio voters favored Strickland, a Methodist minister and six-term congressman, while 32 percent backed Blackwell, Ohio's conservative secretary of state and a favorite of the religious right.

The poll reveals broad and deep support for Strickland, said Peter Brown, assistant director at the Quinnipiac polling institute in Hamden, Conn. Stickland drew the support of 90 percent of Democrats surveyed, 63 percent of independents and 22 percent of Republicans.

The telephone survey of 901 likely voters was conducted Oct. 10-15 and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. 2006 key races

Ohio, which narrowly gave President Bush the votes he needed for re-election, hasn't had a Democratic governor since 1991, but some of its leading Republicans have struggled with scandal.

U.S. Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, pleaded guilty Friday in an influence-peddling in a case involving lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Gov. Bob Taft pleaded no contest last year to ethics charges for failing to report golf outings and other trips. A GOP fundraiser and politically connected coin dealer, Tom Noe, is now on trial, accused of stealing more than $2 million from a state investment in rare coins; his attorneys say the deal with the state allowed him to use the money.

Wednesday's poll found 80 percent of Ohio voters surveyed disapprove of the job Taft is doing as governor. Taft cannot seek re-election because of term limits.

A September Quinnipiac poll also showed Strickland with a double-digit lead.

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