And the hits from the heartland just keep coming.  In 2006, Democrats swept statewide races in Ohio and declared that they had turned the once solidly Republican state into a Democratic stronghold, led by the duo at the top of the ticket, Governor Ted Strickland and Lt. Governor Lee Fisher.  Four years later, the two have gone into free-fall, according to two Quinnipiac polls.

First, yesterday’s poll shows the incumbent Governor trailing his Republican challenger, John Kasich, by 17 points:

Republican challenger John Kasich has a 54 – 37 percent lead over Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland in the race to be Ohio’s next chief state executive, with much of his lead due to overwhelming support among independent voters, according to a Quinnipiac University poll of likely voters released today.

Kasich, a former congressman and Fox News host, holds even larger leads over Gov. Strickland when voters are asked which candidate would be better rebuilding the state’s ailing economy and handling the state budget, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University survey, conducted by live interviewers, finds. This first general election measure of likely voters in Ohio for this election cycle can not be compared to earlier surveys of registered voters. …

“Independent voters often decide elections in Ohio and Kasich leads among the unaffiliated by 23 points. Not only that, but John Kasich does slightly better among Democrats than Strickland does among Republicans,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Believe it or not, that’s the good news for Democrats in Ohio, because Lee Fisher trails Rob Portman by 20 points in today’s Q-poll — which also gives a big hint as to the reason for their collapse:

Republican Rob Portman holds a 55 – 35 percent lead over Democratic Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher among likely voters in the race for Ohio’s U.S. Senate seat, while President Barack Obama has a 60 – 38 percent disapproval rating, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.

By a 58 – 37 percent margin, likely Ohio voters want a U.S. Senator who opposes President Obama’s policies, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University survey, conducted by live interviewers, finds. And by 49 – 31 percent, voters want Republicans rather than Democrats to control the U.S. Senate. …

“Among the likely Ohio electorate for this November, President Barack Obama is not a popular fellow. Independent likely voters disapprove 65 – 31 percent of the job he is doing. With the president such a heavy weight around the neck of Democratic candidates, it will be hard for one to win such a high-profile office this year in Ohio,” Brown said.

One reason for the president’s poor rating, at least in Ohio, is his health care overhaul plan. Likely voters disapprove of it by a 65 – 30 percent margin.

It’s worth pointing out that both men trail their Republican opponents by more than the gap between Christine O’Donnell and Chris Coons in Delaware — and in Fisher’s case, by almost twice as much.

The trajectories of these races have been known for some time, but the acceleration comes as a bit of a surprise.  It spells catastrophe for down-ticket races.  Democrats have at least six vulnerable House seats in Ohio that they wanted to spend money to defend.  With their incumbent leadership taking this much of a beating at the top of the ticket, Democrats will hardly be motivated to turn out to protect people like Steve Dreihaus and Betty Sutton.  Four years after winning Ohio and two years after delivering it to Obama, Ohio may wind up being more Republican than ever.