The last round of polling before today's primary had Blackwell losing a hypothetical matchup against Strickland by 10 points. I suspect that this can mostly be chalked up to anti-Republican feeling in the state as opposed to any sort of positive upswell for Strickland.
However, Ken Blackwell is in the unique position of being able to run as a reform, anti-establishment candidate even though the establishment is his own party. As such, he should be able to paint himself as an outsider to the Taft wing of the party and dispell some of the anti-Republican feeling in the state.
As a populist conservative and an excellent communicator of his beliefs, he should be able to rally support from the conservative grassroots and ensure a solid turnout on his behalf. I'm not expecting anything like the amount of excitement the 2004 election generated, but it did show that a fired up Republican base can deliver victory in this state on its own.
The X-factor will be how many black votes Blackwell can attract. If he can get a good share (for a Republican) - say, 25% - 30% - he could run away with the contest, or at least offset any weakness caused by his party affiliation.
I think we can expect a vicious campaign by the Democrats. The TEL amendment will be a major issue, and there will be attacks claiming it will put people on the streets and make the poor population destitute. Personal attacks against Blackwell's finances (building off Petro's ads) and against his social conservatism are also to be expected. Blackwell has never shown any aversion to mudslinging, so we can expect him to fire right back. This is the one reservation I have in regard to Blackwell, and I hope he doesn't push it too far.
In the end, I expect Blackwell to win the governorship and rally enough conservative support to help out the rest of the Republicans in the state as well.