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Published: Wednesday, 2/15/2012

Poll: 54% of Ohio voters like ‘right to work’

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF

COLUMBUS — The question has not yet made it on Ohio’s ballot, but 54 percent of registered voters say they like the idea of making Ohio the next “right-to-work” state, according to a Quinnipiac Poll released Tuesday.

March primary election: precinct, ballot information

Ohio Democratic lawmakers vehemently oppose right to work, and Gov. John Kasich and other Republican leaders are skittish about supporting such a move after the shellacking they took in November against Senate Bill 5 — the GOP-passed bill restricting collective bargaining.

But some of the same people who were behind last year’s successful Ohio vote against President Obama’s health-care reforms are now pursuing another constitutional amendment to prevent Ohioans from being forced to pay “fair share” or other fees to help support workplace unions they refuse to join.

“Given the assumption that the S.B. 5 referendum was a demonstration of union strength in Ohio, the 54 to 40 percent support for making Ohio a ‘right-to-work’ state does make one take notice,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

“In the S.B. 5 referendum, independent voters — who are generally the key to Ohio elections — voted with the pro-union folks to repeal the law many viewed as an effort to handicap unions,” he said. “The data indicate that many of those same independents who stood up for unions this past November on S.B. 5 are standing up to unions by backing ‘right-to-work’ legislation.”

This follows on the heels of passage of recent legislation in Indiana making it the first “right-to-work” state in the Midwest.

The right-to-work petition process in Ohio is just beginning, so it remains to be seen whether backers of the amendment can collect the roughly 386,000 signatures necessary to put the question on this November’s ballot.

Just 6 percent of voters don’t have an opinion at this early stage about the issue.

Governor Kasich, who is among those urging caution in pursuing the amendment, is still upside down when it comes to his own approval numbers.

But the poll of 1,421 registered Ohio voters show public opinion of his performance has improved slightly.

Just 40 percent of voters give a thumbs-up to the job he’s done a little more than a year into his term, compared with 46 percent who disapprove of his performance.

That’s a little better than the 39 percent and 48 percent numbers, respectively, recorded in the last poll in October prior to the overwhelming defeat of the public employee, collective-bargaining law at the ballot box.

“When a governor’s approval rating in his own party can’t overcome the disapproval by the opposition party, and he is getting bad reviews from independent voters, it is a sign of political weakness,” Mr. Brown said.

“The governor still has almost three years until he faces the voters, but he would certainly like to get his job approval in the mid-40s, at least.

“The good news for him is that he is slightly more popular than the legislature, which gets 48 to 35 percent disapproval,” he said.

The same poll showed that voters also like proposals that would increase Ohio’s highway speed limit to 70 mph and ban smoking in cars in which young children are passengers.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) had endorsed Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and reportedly is a contender for a vice presidential nod to help put the former Massachusetts governor over the top in battleground Ohio.

But it remains to be seen how much that might help Mr. Romney, given that more than a third of Ohioans have yet to form an opinion of their new senator.

Mr. Portman has a job approval rating of 42 percent, compared with a disapproval number of 25 percent.

That means 33 percent haven’t made up their minds yet.

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.



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