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COLUMBUS — Gov. John Kasich has widened his lead over Democratic opponent Ed FitzGerald. and Ohio voters still support the death penalty even after its problems with the process, the latest Quinnipiac Poll released today shows.
The Republican governor leads with an even 50 percent of the vote to the Cuyahoga County executive's 35 percent, well outside the margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points. The 15 percent spread has widened by 10 points since the last poll from the Connecticut-based university in February.
“He gets plus-50 percent approval ratings from voters on his handling of the economy and the state budget," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Unversity Polling Institute. "These numbers are crucial because the economy and jobs are the most important issues in the minds of voters.
“Democratic County Executive Ed FitzGerald remains unknown to many voters," he said. "Democratic optimists will argue that with six months until Election Day, FitzGerald has a golden opportunity to reach all those voters. He’s going to have to spend a lot of money on that introduction while the better-funded Kasich will introduce FitzGerald to those same voters in a much less flattering way.”
The governor has his best job performance numbers since his election with 56 percent approving and 33 percent disapproving, and now 53 percent say he deserves re-election.
He also seems to have turned things around in one area where Mr. Kasich previously appeared to be vulnerable. Voters, by a margin of 53 percent to 39 percent, now say they believe Mr. Kasich cares about their problems. Mr. FitzGerald has attempted to paint Mr. Kasich's policies as favoring the wealthy over the middle class.
The governor is in positive territory on his handling of taxes, the state budget, and health care. but is evenly split at 29 percent to 29 percent on the question of how he's handled abortion. That's one issue where Mr. FitzGerald has taken aim at the governor, accusing him and fellow Republicans of waging a war on women by restricting access to abortion services.
"Voters think Gov. Kasich deserves another term, and two-thirds consider him a strong leader," Mr. Brown said. "A small majority says he cares about their needs, a measure on which Republicans, even successful ones, often don’t do that well. And perhaps most important for Kasich’s re-election, 60 percent of voters are satisfied with the way things are going in the state."
When it comes to punishment for murder, 69 percent of registered Ohio voters favor the death penalty compared to 25 percent who do not. When picking from a menu of punishments, 43 percent favor the death penalty, 40 percent favor life without parole, and 9 percent prefer life in prison with a chance for parole. The two life sentence options total 49 percent.
The poll of 1,174 registered voters was conducted between May 7 and 12.