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Kasich’s poll numbers improve

For the first time as Ohio governor, Republican John Kasich’s job approval rating is above 50 percent — a key measure as he tries to rally public support for his two-year budget proposal and heads into a re-election cycle.

A poll released Thursday by Quinnipiac University shows that 53 percent of voters approve of Kasich while 32 percent disapprove. This compares with a 42-35 percent rating for Kasich in a December 11 survey by Quinnipiac University.

The poll also found that Kasich holds between six and 10 point leads against four potential challengers in the 2014 governor’s race.

Right now, according to the poll, Kasich’s leads against the following Democratic contenders:

45 - 35 percent over Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald.

44 - 38 percent over former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray.

44 - 36 percent over U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan.

45 - 38 percent over former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton.

Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said: “What a difference a few months make. Not that long ago, Democrats were excited at the prospect of taking on an unpopular governor who had a disapproval rating in the 50s. Now his job disapproval rating is just 32 percent and his chances of re-election appear to be much better than they were thought to be as recently as December.”

He added that the good news for Democrats is that Kasich, who enjoys much higher name recognition and visibility, doesn’t get above 50 percent against any of the four potential challengers.

Kasich’s other numbers are improving as well:

* 48 percent favorable, 32 percent unfavorable;

* 46 percent say he deserves re-election while 36 percent say he doesn’t;

* 45 percent approve of how he is handling the state budget, 39 percent do not approve;

* 51 percent say Kasich has kept his campaign promises while 30 percent say he hasn’t.

“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. We’re halfway down that road now and that strategy appears to have been successful so far,” Brown said.

Indeed, in his first two years, Kasich embraced an unpopular plan to gut collective bargaining rights for 358,000 public employees and delivered cuts in state funding to cities, counties, school districts and other local governments.

Quinnipiac University also found that voters see U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman positively. The poll found Brown’s job approval rating is 51 percent to 33 percent while Portman’s job approval rating is 44 percent to 24 percent.

Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman both get positive reviews from voters. Portman gets a 44 – 24 percent job approval rating, while Brown gets a 51 – 33 percent score.

The poll surveyed 1,011 registered voters from Feb. 21 to Feb. 26 and has a margin or error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

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