Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) had to be feeling pretty good a little over eight months ago when he knocked off incumbent Ted Strickland on his way to being the Buckeye State’s chief executive. Now it’s the people of Ohio who don’t feel that great about him.
Kasich’s approval rating registered at a paltry 35% in the latest Quinnipiac poll of Ohio voters, with 50% disapproving of the Governor’s performance, directly in line with the current TPM Poll Average. Ohio was one of the major flash points in the fight between newly elected Republican governors and public employee unions over collective bargaining rights, compensation and benefits. Much of the poll shows a public resistance to Kasich’s policy in the area, but agreement that public employees should pay more of their health insurance and pension contributions.
The Quinnipiac poll showed that 56% of Ohioans think that SB 5, the new anti-union law passed by the Ohio Legislature and signed by Kasich, should be repealed, with 32% saying it should be kept. Independent voters favor repeal 52% to 33%, and even a little more than a third of Republicans want it scrapped. State residents may have that chance this November, as pro-union forces delivered more than five times the needed amount of signatures to force a ballot referendum. The key here seems to be how the electorate viewed Gov. Kasich’s new policy personally, rather than on the Governor’s general argument that it would help the state avert fiscal disaster.
“Even after the state budget has been approved as he promised without raising taxes, and even though the Quinnipiac University poll finds that 63 percent say they favor such an approach, Gov. Kasich’s name remains mud in the eyes of the Ohio electorate,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “Voters may say 2-1 they wanted him to balance the budget just through spending cuts rather than with a combination of spending cuts and tax increases, but they don’t like the cuts that he and the Legislature approved. By 50 - 32 percent, voters say the budget is unfair to people like them. When voters think a politician is treating them unfairly, that’s not good for the politician’s political health.”
The poll was conducted through live telephone interviews with 1,659 registered Ohio voters, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percent.
Kyle is the Editor of TPM Media’s PollTracker. He graduated from Beloit College (WI) and began working in politics before getting an M.A. in magazine journalism from New York University, where he interned at TPM and the website of The New Yorker.