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Published: Thursday, 4/1/2010

2 candidates for Ohio governor lose support

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF

COLUMBUS - The latest Quinnipiac University poll released yesterday shows both major candidates for Ohio governor have lost support over the last month.

Seven months out from what some have predicted will be an anti-incumbent election, the poll suggests the bottom has not dropped out from under incumbent Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland. He continues to hold a 5-percentage-point lead over Republican opponent John Kasich, still largely an unknown commodity among voters.

Neither side has demonstrated momentum. Both lost a single percentage point of support since the previous Quinnipiac Poll in late February.

In the wake of the historic passage of the health-care plan, the poll held brighter news for Democrats in general and, in particular, for President Obama, whose approval rating climbed to its highest level since September.

However, more Ohioans still disapprove of his performance than approve, by 48 percent to 47 percent.

The poll also showed that two competing Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate seat to be vacated by Sen. George Voinovich (R., Ohio) are faring better in hypothetical match-ups with their Republican rival.

"Perhaps it's the passage of the health-care overhaul and the fact that people like being with a winner," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the university's polling institute. "There has been a small, but consistent movement toward Democratic candidates and causes in Ohio in the last month. Whether this is the beginning of a long-term move or not won't be clear for some time, perhaps until November."

While leading 43 percent to 38 percent, Mr. Strickland has reason to worry, he said. There's been little improvement in Ohioans' overall opinion of him.

Mr. Kasich's approval rating, at 24 percent, is much lower than the governor's, but 64 percent of voters say they don't know enough about him to render an opinion. With a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, the contest remains a statistical tie.

"The good news for the governor is that he remains ahead," Mr. Brown said. "The bad news is there is a long way to go until November, and on virtually all measures he receives below 50 percent support and with no movement, typically worrisome signs for an incumbent."

Support for Mr. Obama's health-care reform is on the upswing here. Fifty percent still disapprove, but that's down from 55 percent in November. Approval is now 43 percent, up from 36 percent.

A Quinnipiac Poll released Tuesday showed that Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher would defeat his Democratic rival, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, in the U.S. Senate Democratic primary election a little over a month away.

But unlike February's poll, which had Republican candidate Rob Portman beating both in hypothetical contests, yesterday's numbers show either Democrat could beat the former Cincinnati area congressman and White House budget director on Nov. 2.

The poll showed Mr. Fisher ahead 41 percent to 37 percent over Mr. Portman while Ms. Brunner leads Mr. Portman by a tighter 38 to 37 percent.

Both contests are within the margin of error.

Contact Jim Provance at:

jprovance@theblade.com

or 614-221-0496.



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