Strickland holds three-point lead on Portman in Ohio

Former Gov. Ted Strickland (D) holds a 3-percentage-point lead over Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSchumer blasts 'red flag' gun legislation as 'ineffective cop out' McConnell faces pressure to bring Senate back for gun legislation Shaken Portman urges support for 'red flag' laws after Ohio shooting MORE (R), according to a new poll conducted for a Democratic super-PAC.

Strickland wins support from 46 percent of likely Ohio voters, compared to Portman’s 43 percent, in the poll released Tuesday afternoon by the Senate Majority PAC, a group started by former aides of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) to support the party’s efforts to hold the majority in the body.

That margin is in line with August’s Quinnipiac University Poll, with Strickland leading 44 percent to 41 percent.

The Buckeye State is considered one of the most contentious races in the 2016 cycle, as Democrats look to take control of the body after losing out in 2012.

For the GOP, keeping Portman’s seat is critical.

Republicans are defending 24 seats next year, and many of them are in states won in the 2012 presidential election by President Obama.

Democrats only need to flip five seats to win back the Senate, or four if the party keeps control of the White House and the vice president’s tiebreaker vote. 

Portman has a strong resume and has money in the bank, but Democrats are bullish on the former governor’s chances of knocking him off in a presidential election year.

Harstad Strategic Research conducted the poll for Senate Majority PAC from Sept. 10 through Sept. 16. Out of the 813 likely voters polled, 30 percent identified as Democrats, 29 percent as Republicans, and 37 percent as independent or other. The poll’s margin of error is 3.4 percent.