When John Kasich retired from Congress in 2000 after spending 18 years there, he made a short-lived attempt to run for President of the United States. Kasich's problem, among others, was that the Governor of Texas at the time was attracting all the attention, support and money GOP supporters could muster.
Kasich recalls that when he saw George W. Bush's Gulfstream jet arrive at an airport the small plane he flew in on was parked at, he knew it was time to pack his bags and go home to Ohio.
But once smitten by the White House bug, it's hard to turn that dream off, especially if you've never lost an election and you're the sitting governor of maybe the biggest battleground state of them all.
But Public Policy Polling has looked into Kasich's viability as a top tier presidential contender in 2016 and has found that Kasich's aura now isn't much better than it was when he first started dreaming of being Commander-in-chief.
As Tom Jensen, Director at PPP told CGE Friday in an email, "There's been a decent amount of buzz lately about John Kasich potentially being a candidate for President in 2016 but our newest poll finds that most Ohio voters- including Republicans- aren't on board."
Hillary Clinton strong in Ohio
Trading on its universally acclaimed accuracy from last year's presidential contest pitting GOP challenger Mitt Romney against incumbent Democrat President Barack Obama, PPP finds that Gov. Kasich manages only a tie for fifth in a hypothetical 2016 primary field in his home state, registering in single digits at 8 percent.
Kentucky's U.S. Senator Rand Paul and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie lead the GOP pack with 17 percent each followed by President George W. Bush's younger brother Jeb at 10 percent. First term Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, whose Hispanic origins win him automatic points and prestige is slightly better than Kasich at 9 percent. Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney's ticket mate last year, is at 8 percent, Texas' new firebrand U.S. Senator Ted Cruz has 6 percent, while Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Rick Santorum can only earn 4 percent.
As Jensen says, it gets worse for Kasich when it comes to the general electorate, where he trails Hillary Clinton by 18 points in a hypothetical match up, 53/35. "Clinton looks very strong in Ohio- leading Chris Christie 45/36, Jeb Bush 50/36, Rand Paul 51/36, and Paul Ryan 52/36 as well- but Kasich does the weakest on the home front," Jensen wrote. "One thing that is not helping his cause is the controversial abortion restrictions he signed into law this summer- only 34 percent of voters support them to 40 percent opposed.
Is JobsOhio a time bomb?
Another time bomb that could explode before next year's match-up between Gov. Kasich and his little know Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald, who in another PPP report released this week is actually leading the governor by three percentage points even though Kasich is widely known and FitzGerald little known, is an announcement by the Supreme Court of Ohio that it will hear oral arguments on Nov. 6 in a case over whether opponents of the private economic development entity created by Gov. John Kasich have the standing to sue.
Lawyers on both sides of the suit involving JobsOhio will address the Ohio Supreme Court, the Associated Press reported Thursday. Lower courts have so far rejected a legal challenge to JobsOhio brought by the liberal policy group ProgressOhio and two Democratic state lawmakers. They have stopped short of ruling on the constitutionality of the nonprofit job-creation board, saying the parties cannot show harm and so do not have standing to sue. Opponents argue the law created an impossibly small window in which they had to both experience harm and file their legal challenge. The AP said the high court intends to settle the question.
Gov. Kasich proposed the creation of JobsOhio in his campaign in 2010 and once said he would be its CEO. He was forced to change course, stepping away from his once-stated claim to lead the group, whose board he appoints and whose exemption from public oversight or public records requests was sealed by a friendly Republican-dominated legislature that gave Gov. Kasich everything he asked for.
JobsOhio, Gov. Kasich and some of the groups board members have come under intense fire from FitzGerald and others who believe abundant conflicts of interest are present, and that state laws prohibit this kind of self-dealing. If the case moves forward, it could grow into a menacing threat to the governor's campaign to defend JobsOhio at all costs.
Other notes from Ohio by PPP:
- For the first time ever PPP finds a plurality of Ohio voters in support of gay marriage- 48% favor it to 42% who are opposed. There's been a massive shift in attitudes over the last two years- in October of 2011 we found only 32% of voters supporting it and 55% against. Younger voters in particular are sparking the movement toward acceptance of same sex marriage- those under 45 favor it by a 64/28 margin.When it comes to the broader issue of legal rights for gay couples, 69% of Ohioans support at least civil unions to only 27% opposed to any sort of recognition. Even Republican voters by a 54/39 margin favor those.
- One thing that may not be helping the Republican brand in Ohio is how incredibly unpopular John Boehner is. Only 20% of voters in the state approve of the job he's doing to 59% who disapprove, and even with GOP voters he's at just 37/34. Sherrod Brown with a 46/36 approval rating is easily the state's more popular Senator- Rob Portman comes in at 29/39. Those numbers for Portman are almost identical to 26/34 when we looked at the state in April- whether it's because of his support for gay marriage or his opposition to expanded background checks Portman is not in a great position right now.
- And speaking of those expanded background checks, Ohio voters support them by a 78/15 margin and that continues to feature overwhelmingly bipartisan support. Democrats favor them 91/5, independents do 68/26, and Republicans support them by a 67/23 spread.
- LeBron James' image in Ohio has come a long way over the last three years. In August of 2010 he had a 19/34 favorability rating in the state shortly after his unpopular Decision to leave the Cavs for the Heat. But 2 championships and a lot of apologies later James is back in the good graces of his home state- 32% of voters of voters see him favorably to 29% with a negative opinion. It might not be great but it's a net 18 points better than it used to be.
- Ohio might have some bandwagon baseball fans. 2 years ago we found that 34% of voters in the state were Indians fans to 25% for the Reds. But a division title and another playoff bid pending later the Reds have wrested top honors from the Indians by a 32/26 spread. The Cubs at 8%, Tigers at 6%, Braves at 5%, Yankees at 4%, Pirates at 3%, and Red Sox at 2% round out Ohio's favorite teams.
- Last summer when we asked Ohio State fans whether they'd rather have Urban Meyer or Jim Tressel as their football coach they were pretty evenly divided- 38% favored Meyer to 33% who went with Tressel. An undefeated season has a way to move attitudes about things though, and now Meyer wins out 51/22 on that question. Meyer has a 72/3 approval rating, but Tressel remains very popular as well with a 62/12 favorability spread.
- A former Buckeye faring less well is departed President Gordon Gee- his overall favorability rating is a negative 22/31 spread, although he is at least on slightly positive ground with those who identify as Ohio State fans at 32/26.
- When it comes to NFL teams we find the same thing we did last August- Browns fans outnumber Bengals ones- this year by a 36/25 margin. But when it comes to expectations for this season, 43% think the Bengals will be better on the field to 32% who go with the Browns.
- And finally there's much debate between backers of the University of North Carolina and the University of South Carolina, both of whom refer to their schools as 'Carolina,' about which is the 'real Carolina.' So with the teams kicking off their football seasons against each other Thursday we decided to take the question to someone without a vested interested in the outcome- the people of Ohio. They say by a 67/33 margin that the Tar Heels are the real 'Carolina.' Somehow I don't think that will end the debate though.
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