COLUMBUS -- Ohioans seem to be in a better mood about their state's economic direction, and President Obama and Gov. John Kasich both appear to be benefiting from it.
A Quinnipiac University/CBS News/New York Times poll released this week, the first with a narrower focus on likely voters rather than registered voters, showed stronger numbers for the Democratic national leader and Republican state leader.
"This is our first likely voter survey of Gov. John Kasich, so we can't compare it to earlier surveys of registered voters," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
"But the improvement in his approval rating is so big that it must be at least in part because of the improving economy in the state."
At least on paper, Ohio's economic turnaround has outpaced the nation as a whole. That has occasionally placed Mr. Kasich in the position of touting the state's stronger economic performance while Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney has campaigned in Ohio criticizing the national economy.
Ohio's unemployment rate is a full percentage point below the national average -- 7.2 percent compared to 8.2 percent. Ohio's rate has continued to incrementally dip while the nation's has stagnated.
Thirty-three percent of Ohioans polled said they believe the state's economy is improving, while 26 percent believe it's getting worse, and 40 percent say it's about the same.
Ohioans, however, are more pessimistic about the national economy, with 39 percent saying it's worsening, 26 percent saying it's improving, and 34 percent who see it as stagnating.
Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney are statistically tied in Ohioans' opinions about which candidate is better suited to wake the nation from its economic slumber.
Likely voters in the state also believe their personal financial situations are more likely to be hurt, rather than helped, by either candidate's policies.
Mr. Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have pointed to the President's policies, particularly the rebound of the federally rescued auto industry, as reasons for Ohio's improving numbers.
"Over the last three and a half years, we've worked to make progress -- 4 1/2 million jobs created, half a million manufacturing jobs," Mr. Obama said in Akron on Wednesday. "They counted the auto industry out, and now it's coming back stronger than ever right here in Ohio and all across the country."
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio), often mentioned as a potential running mate for Mr. Romney, given Ohio's importance, said Thursday that the national media have overplayed Ohio's better-than-average performance.
"Folks are not satisfied with where we are," he said. "Unemployment is over 7 percent, and that does not include people who have stopped looking for work. Since the Obama Administration came into office, it's over 10 percent. … It's a sad number."
For what good news there has been, he credited Mr. Kasich and the Republican-controlled General Assembly for enacting tax and regulatory policies to improve Ohio's business climate, policies that he said should also be pursued at the national level.
Overall, the poll had Mr. Obama up over Mr. Romney by 6 percentage points in Ohio, 50 percent to 44 percent, more than three months out from the Nov. 6 election.
Contact Jim Provance at: email@example.com or 614-221-0496.