By LAURA A. BISCHOFF
Dayton Daily News
Gov. John Kasich got good news on Tuesday about how Ohio voters feel about him.
Kasich’s job approval rating hit an all-time high of 54 percent - a 24 point upswing over his low of 30 percent in March 2011 during the height of the collective bargaining battle, according to a new independent poll conducted by Quinnipiac University.
And if the November 2014 election were held today, Kasich would crush his likely Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald 47 percent to 33 percent, the poll found.
“There is certainly time to go (before the election) and things could change but the governor is in pretty good shape. Voters like him. They like the way he’s handing the economy. It’s pretty clear he’s benefiting from an economic optimism in the state of Ohio,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “About the only piece of information that isn’t overwhelmingly good for Mr. Kasich is that only 49 percent of voters say he deserves a second term. That’s one-point shy of the magic number.”
Four years ago, Kasich the challenger trailed incumbent Gov. Ted Strickland by 5 points in the same poll and half of the voters didn’t know enough about Kasich to form an opinion.
“While polls go up and polls go down, what doesn’t change is John Kasich sticking it to middle-class families while doling out insider deals and tax giveaways to millionaires - all while threatening to set back women’s health care 50 years,” said Matt McGrath, spokesman for the Ohio Democratic Party, in a written statement. “I suspect Ohio voters will have something to say about that in 16 months.”
Sixty-two percent of men give Kasich positive job approval and 47 percent of women approve of his job performance, Quinnipiac University found. Forty-percent of women voters say they support FitzGerald while 38 percent support Kasich.
Brown said Kasich is benefiting from voters’ belief that the economy is getting better in Ohio - 40 percent rate the economy is good, up from just 5 percent who said so in March 2009. Still, 57 percent of Ohio voters today say the economy is poor or not so good.
FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County executive who is making his first run for statewide office, has been telling supporters that the Ohio economy isn’t doing well enough.
Brown said that’s the message that Mitt Romney used in Ohio to no avail. “You can’t tell people something is blue if it’s green,” he said.
FitzGerald’s first challenge is raising his name identification. Three of four voters say they don’t know enough about him to form an opinion, the poll found. That means each side will be trying to define FitzGerald during the next 16 months.
“In politics two weeks is a long time and a month is forever. Sixteen months is forever squared,” Brown said.
The poll was conducted June 18-23 by calling 941 registered voters on cell phones and landlines for live interviews. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.