COLUMBUS — The latest report from a Connecticut-based polling institute shows Gov. John Kasich’s popularity — and his chance for re-election — is growing among Ohioans.
As more time passes since the contentious fight over collective bargaining in 2011 and as Ohio’s economic outlook improves compared with the nation as a whole, Mr. Kasich’s job approval rating has reached a highest-yet 53 percent, according to a Quinnipiac Poll released Thursday. By contrast, 32 percent of those polled don’t like what the governor's done so far.
“What a difference a few months make,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
“Not that long ago, Democrats were licking their lips at the prospect of taking on an unpopular governor who had a disapproval rating in the 50s,” he said.
Mr. Kasich’s numbers have improved dramatically since the last Quinnipiac Poll in December, when he had an approval rating of 42 percent to 35 percent. The December numbers marked his first time in positive territory.
But more telling at the time were numbers suggesting Ohioans still didn’t want to see him re-elected.
Thursday’s poll suggests that if the 2014 gubernatorial election were held now, the Republican governor would defeat any of the Democrats most often mentioned to take him on.
The poll suggests Mr. Kasich would defeat:
● Richard Cordray, former Ohio attorney general and President Obama’s current top consumer watchdog, by a vote of 44 percent to 38 percent.
● Former Akron area congressman Betty Sutton by 45 percent to 38 percent.
● Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald by 45 percent to 35 percent.
● Youngstown area Congressman Tim Ryan by 44 percent to 36 percent.
“The good news for the Democrats is that [Mr.] Kasich does not get 50 percent of the votes against any of the four potential candidates,” Mr. Brown said. “But he does have consistently good numbers on a number of measurements that indicate strength.”
Forty-six percent of voters now say Mr. Kasich, a former Columbus area congressman and Fox News political show host, deserves re-election. Thirty-six percent say he does not.
Eighty-one percent of Republicans support re-election. The governor has the support of 17 percent of Democrats and 47 percent of independents.
“When Kasich assumed office, he followed a strategy of taking the political pain early in his administration in hopes that would solve problems and lead to better days down the road,” Mr. Brown said. “That strategy appears to have been successful so far.”
The poll of 1,011 registered voters with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, also showed:
●Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman has a 44 percent to 24 percent job approval rating.
● Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown has a 51 percent to 33 percent approval rating.
● The Republican-controlled General Assembly is upside down with 42 percent disapproving of the performance and 39 percent approving.
● Voters generally approve 45 percent to 39 percent of the way Mr. Kasich is handling his current budget proposal now before lawmakers, compared with a 40-40 split in December.
● Voters are more conflicted when asked if that budget is fair to them and others like them. The margin then tightens to 45 percent vs. 43 percent.