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Gov. John Kasich loses ground to Dem's Ed FitzGerald, Quinnipiac poll shows

In office now for 38 months, Ohio's go-go CEO-style Gov. John Kasich can't seem to pull away from his little known Democratic challenger, Ed FitzGerald, who is now within striking distance of the acerbic Republican whose name is bantered about as a GOP presidential contender in 2016.

Ohio Democratic candidate for governor, Ed FitzGerald.
Ohio Democratic candidate for governor, Ed FitzGerald.
John Michael Spinelli
Gov. John Kasich, who tried once before to be a GOP presidential candidate, isn't the slam-dunk for reelection many thought he was, according to poll results released Wednesday by Quinnipiac.
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

For Gov. Kasich to achieve his dream of being presidential timbre, he has to win Ohio not by the thin 77,127 vote margin he did in 2010 but by a margin he can point to as proof he and his policies are much beloved.

But that's exactly his problem, as emerged Wednesday when Quinnipiac University released it's latest survey showing his margin over FitzGerald has dropped to five percentage points.

Gov. Kasich enjoys a 51 - 36 percent job approval rating, virtually unchanged in the last 12 months, Quinnipiac polling revealed. But his 43 - 38 percent lead over Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, his largely unknown possible Democratic challenger, offered hope to Team FitzGerald that Kasich can be caught up with come November, the month for General Elections.

Ed FitzGerald's campaign manager, Nick Buis, said today's poll results show the little known candidate's message is gaining traction.

"Polls will go up and down over the next nine months, but it is clear that Ohioans are responding to Ed FitzGerald because he does not believe the daily financial anxiety Ohio's families have endured under John Kasich should be the new normal. As Governor and Lt. Governor, Ed and Sharen will ensure all Ohio's families see their hard work pay off," Buis said in prepared remarks.

The significance of the Quinnipiac poll today is that it did not include Libertarian Party candidate Charlie Earl. In polling performed by another nationally known and respected outfit, Public Policy Polling, Earl could siphon off as much as six percent of Ohio voters, many of whom might otherwise vote for Gov. Kasich. With Earl in the mix, along with a couple other candidates including the Green Party, Team Kasich should be worried that votes going to Earl might leave FitzGerald with less than 50 percent, but enough to be the next governor come the start of 2015.

Last November, Quinnipiac, a well known and widely respected polling group, released a poll showing a 44 - 37 percent lead for Gov. Kasich. It's no surprise that Gov. Kasich leads 82 - 6 percent among Republicans and 43 - 31 percent among independent voters, while Democrats go to FitzGerald 74 - 11 percent.

Since Team FitzGerald is making a plea to women to vote for them, based on harsh and restrictive health care and abortion access bills Gov. Kasich has signed into law, the gender break down is very important. Women out number and out vote men, so while the GOP can smile that men back Kasich 49 - 33 percent, FitzGerald can smile knowing that women back him 42 - 37 percent.

Ohio voters say 61 - 31 percent that Kasich is a strong leader and say 52 - 35 percent that he is honest and trustworthy. But they are divided on whether he cares about their needs and problems, as 43 percent say he cares and 47 percent say he doesn't care.

The governor gets a 42 - 30 percent favorability rating, but less than half, 46 - 42 percent, believe he deserves to be reelected.

For FitzGerald, 70 percent don't know enough to form an opinion, Quinnipiac said.

"The race to become Ohio's next governor is a five-point game, little changed from the seven-point spread in Quinnipiac University's last survey in November," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Also unchanged, however, is how relatively few Ohioans - less than three in ten - know enough about Democratic favorite Ed Fitzgerald to have an opinion about him."

That is a double-edged sword for the challenger, Brown noted, adding, "It indicates he has not made much headway in the past three months, but it provides him an opportunity to make up ground among the vast number of voters who are unfamiliar with him."

"Voters see Gov. John Kasich in a more favorable light when it comes to his personal characteristics than his handling of issues," said Brown. "They give him high grades on leadership and positive ratings on trustworthiness and good judgment, though not so much on understanding the problems of average folks. He gets basically even scores on handling the budget, taxes and jobs, the latter of which is cited by voters as the top priority."

In an open-ended question, allowing for any answer, a total of 42 percent of Ohio voters list the economy or jobs as the top priority for state government in 2014. Another 14 percent list education or education funding, followed by 5 percent who cite health care.

Ohio voters give Kasich a mixed grade for his handling of the economy and jobs as 44 percent approve and 46 percent disapprove. His approval ratings on other issues are:

44 - 40 percent approve of his handling of taxes;
44 percent approve of his handling of the state budget, while 42 percent disapprove;
42 percent disapprove of his handling of health care, while 36 percent approve; Death Penalty
Ohio voters favor the death penalty 68 - 26 percent, but when asked whether they favor the death penalty or life in prison with no chance of parole:
47 percent favor the death penalty;
36 percent favor life in prison with no chance of parole;
12 percent favor life in prison with a chance of parole.
There is a total of 48 percent support for the two life options. Among men, 51 percent support the death penalty, with 30 percent for life without parole and 13 percent for life with parole. Among women, 43 percent support the death penalty, with 42 percent for life without parole, and 10 percent for life with parole.

"The life without parole option provides another perspective on the death penalty debate, with significant partisan, gender and age divisions," Brown said.

From February 12 - 17, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,370 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.7 percentage points. Live interviewers call land lines and cell phones.

The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Iowa, Colorado and the nation as a public service and for research.

The news article Gov. John Kasich loses ground to Dem's Ed FitzGerald, Quinnipiac poll shows appeared first on Columbus Government Examiner.

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