COLUMBUS — Republican Gov. John Kasich has widened his lead over Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald, though a majority of voters still don’t know enough about the latter to have an opinion of him.
Among 1,174 registered Ohio voters questioned over the past week by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, 50 percent sided with the incumbent governor, versus 35 percent who supported the Cuyahoga County Executive.
Kasich held a 43 percent-38 percent advantage over FitzGerald in Quinnipiac’s February survey.
Additionally, 56 percent said they approved of Kasich’s work in office, his highest mark since being elected in 2010. And 47 percent of voters said they had a favorable opinion of Kasich, versus 29 percent who did not.
More than 60 percent said they didn’t know enough about FitzGerald to form an opinion of him.
“Ohio Gov. John Kasich has opened up a 15-point lead in his re-election race as voters give him sterling grades for his job performance, especially on the economy,” Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the polling institute, said in a released statement. “He gets plus-50 percent approval ratings from voters on his handling of the economy and the state budget. These numbers are crucial because the economy and jobs are the most important issues in the minds of voters.”
Brown added, “Democratic County Executive Ed FitzGerald remains unknown to many voters. Democratic optimists will argue that with six months until Election Day, FitzGerald has a golden opportunity to reach all those voters. He’s going to have to spend a lot of money on that introduction while the better-funded Kasich will introduce FitzGerald to those same voters in a much less flattering way.”
Connecticut-based Quinnipiac regularly gauges Ohioans’ opinions of candidates and issues. Its survey Wednesday has a margin of error of about 3 percentage points.
Among other results, 60 percent of voters said they were satisfied with the way things are going in the state, 50 percent said the state’s economy has gotten better in the last four years, and 67 percent said Kasich has strong leadership qualities.
On another issue, 69 percent of Ohioans said they favored the death penalty for people convicted of murder, versus 25 percent who did not.
But 49 percent also said they favored sentences of life in prison with or without parole, versus 43 percent who picked death penalties, when offered the options.
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.