For the first time in two years, Gov. John Kasich has a positive approval rating in a major poll. The latest Quinnipiac University poll shows his approval rating improving with Ohioans. Statehouse Correspondent Jo Ingles has details.
Quinnipiac University pollster Peter Brown says there’s good news for Kasich in this most recent poll.
BROWN: "Kasich’s doing a better job in the eyes of voters."
In this latest Quinnipiac poll, Kasich’s job approval rating is 53 percent. That’s the first time since he took office that it’s been over the 50 percent mark. Brown says he suspects there’s one reason for that.
BROWN: "Ohioans seem to be happier -- and frankly, again, Ohio is doing better economically than much of the rest of the country. I mean the same reasons that led President Obama perhaps to have a comfortable win here than some would expect a year before the election -- because the economy's good. They gave Obama credit for it and they're giving Kasich credit for it."
Kasich has had his share of issues during the past couple of years that proved challenging for him. He was forced to deal with a tough budget and had to cut some state services. Early on, he said things he later came to regret -- like calling a police officer an “idiot” and taking a hard tone with lobbyists. And he backed the controversial collective bargaining bill that Ohio voters overwhelmingly repealed at the ballot box months later.
BROWN: "Kasich took the pain early. Some politicians try to put off pain. He didn’t do that, clearly. And it seems -- with a capital S -- seems to have been a good strategy at this point."
These days, Kasich has softened his tone and has embraced some ideas that Democrats support -- like expanding Medicaid in Ohio for example.
Still, the head of Ohio’s Democratic Party, Chris Redfern, points out the poll shows only 46 percent of Ohioans think Kasich deserves re-election. And Redfern makes this comparison.
REDFERN: "This time four years ago when a poll was taken for Ted Strickland, it showed us thrashing John Kasich by almost 30 points in a head-to-head matchup that was not yet to be held for another two years. Polls come and go."
Redfern says Governor Kasich wants to raise sales taxes as part of a tax reform plan that Redfern says hurts lower- and middle-income Ohioans.
Yet this Quinnipiac poll shows Ohioans, at this point, do not favor any of the possible Democratic candidates over Kasich.
Redfern says that will change as people realize the possible sales tax increases and become more familiar with possible Democratic candidates.
REDFERN: "As more Ohioans come to know Ed FitzGerald, Tim Ryan, Betty Sutton, whoever the nominee is, they'll see the contrast between the policies of John Kasich -- sales tax explosion, attacking the middle class, increased levies at the local levels, attacking fire fighters and police officers -- and those on our side of the aisle. We want to invest in the middle class and do the things that we know can grow our state."
Indeed, Quinnipiac Pollster Peter Brown says it’s too early to read too much into Kasich’s latest approval rating. He says it’s going to come down to how voters feel about the economy when they go to the polls next fall.
BROWN: "When things are good, voters are happy and they tend to reward their politicians. When things are bad, they're unhappy (and) they tend to penalize their politicians."