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Published: Thursday, 7/31/2014 - Updated: 1 year ago

Poll: Union battle follows Kasich

31% of voters say they’re less likely to support governor because of issue

Kasich holds 12-point advantage in latest poll. Kasich holds 12-point advantage in latest poll.

COLUMBUS — Voters remember Gov. John Kasich’s battle with public employee unions during his first year in office with nearly a third of them in the latest Quinnipiac Poll saying they are less likely to vote for him because of it.

But while his lead in the poll released Wednesday narrowed slightly since the last two months ago, the Republican governor still holds a 12-point advantage over Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald. Mr. Kasich leads 48 percent to 36 percent a little more than three months from the Nov. 4 election.

“Four out of five voters say Kasich’s largest embarrassment as governor, the Senate Bill 5 fiasco, is important to their vote,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University polling institute. “Many voters say the fight over collective bargaining makes them less likely to vote for Kasich, but a plurality says it won’t affect their choice.”

Thirty-one percent say they are less likely to support the governor because of Senate Bill 5 while 19 percent said they are more likely to support him. Forty-five percent said it will make no difference.

Mr. FitzGerald and fellow Democrats are counting on voters remembering.

Mr. Kasich has not embraced recent proposals to make Ohio a right-to-work state, in which private and public employees would not have to pay fees in lieu of dues to workplace unions they refuse to join. But Democrats try to make the case that such an effort would be inevitable if the Republican governor wins re-election.

Sixty-five percent of those questioned say they still don’t know enough about Mr. FitzGerald to form an opinion of him. The Democrat is woefully underfunded compared with the Republican incumbent. He recently went on the air with his first TV ad, months behind Mr. Kasich.

“FitzGerald has got to do a better job getting known,” said Jim Ruvolo of Toledo, a former Ohio Democratic Party chairman.

“I still think this race is winnable, but nobody knows him. Kasich is still not over 50 percent. He has a big likability problem. But FitzGerald needs the resources to get better known.”

Significantly, Mr. Kasich is carrying independents critical to Ohio elections with 47 percent saying they prefer Mr. Kasich to 28 percent who say they’ll vote for Mr. FitzGerald.

The poll of 1,366 registered voters was conducted from Thursday to Monday. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.

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

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