Quinnipiac was the first polling outfit that polled Kasich’s approval rating in January.  At the time, they had it as 30% approval, 22% disapproval, which we noted was substantially worse than Strickland’s first approval rating when he took office and even his approval as he left office.  At the time, conservatives dismissed the January poll saying it was premature to be polling Kasich’s job performance:

Keeling Jan Poll Tweet(Culling handles state gov’t issues for Americans for Tax Reform)

So two months later after SB 5 and the emerging budget fight, how’s Kasich doing? 

Worse, much worse.  Kasich’s approval rating stayed at 30%, but his disapproval rating skyrocketed to 46%.  Among Republicans, Kasich saw his largest, if practically only, growth in his approval rating.  With GOP voters, Kasich’s approval rating improved by 8 points, but his disapproval rating among Republicans grew by twelve.  Kasich’s disapproval rating among Republicans tripled from January, outpacing any growth he had in their approval rating.

Kasich’s disapproval rating among Democrats has nearly double since January, going from 35% to 67%.  Just as all other polling has shown, Independents have soured on Kasich.  His approval rating has dropped six points in two months while his disapproval rating skyrocketed from 18% to 49%.   Even Kasich’s approval ratings among white, born-again evangelicals has collapsed going from 42%-12% to 34%-37%.  And are you ready for the SB 5 effect:  Kasich’s approval/disapproval rating among union households went from 23%-27% to 19% to 58%. 

Kasich’s disapproval rating has doubled among union households and more than tripled among white, born-again evangelicals.

Kasich’s Budget

Kasich’s campaign used his stint as House Budget Chairman and Mary Taylor’s role as State Auditor to suggest that they would be a dynamic duo on the State’s budget.  During the week that the Kasich Administration was making their big p.r. push on the budget, Quinnipiac finds Ohioans aren’t buying:

  • 51% of Ohioans disapproval of how Kasich is handling the budget—twenty points higher than the Ohioans who approve.  Independents (28-53) largely join Democrats (14-73) in disapproving.  Those numbers aren’t much different than what Strickland had the last time Quinnipiac asked the question of him in 2009
  • 53% of Ohioans believe Kasich’s budget is “unfair to people like you;” 32% (mostly Republicans) believe it is fair.
  • A plurality (40%) believe Kasich’s budget cuts go too far; 30% say they are about right and 15% believe they don’t go far enough.  Interestingly, although more Independents say the cuts go too far, the number of Independents who say they don’t go far enough is larger than the percentage of Republicans.
  • More Ohioans (35%) think Kasich’s “Jobs” Budget will hurt the economy versus the 26% who think it will make no difference and the 30% who believe it will help.  Again, Republicans predominately believe it will help while Democrats and Independents believe it will mostly hurt the economy.
  • Opposition to Kasich’s plan to sell off and privatize state prisons has cooled a little while support has had a slight uptick.  Now only 39% support it and 46% oppose it. 

On SB 5

Quinnipiac did something very interesting in polling SB 5.  They split the sample and asked each sample a different question.  When asked if Ohioans supported a propose law to limit collective bargaining, the result was 41% in favor 48% opposed.  However, when asked if Ohioans supported a propose law to limit collective bargaining rights, the result was 35% to 54%.

That just goes to show you how the referendum campaign may break down over the use of the term “rights.”  The difference had a profound affect, particularly, on Independent voters.  Omit the term “rights”, and Independents break 41% in favor to 47% opposed.  Use the terms rights, and Independents go 33% to 58%.

Only 37% of Ohioans believe that SB 5 is about balancing the budget; 55% do not.  Yet again, a majority of Republicans make up most of that 37%.  (Not even Ohioans in Southwestern Ohio and white, born-again evangelicals, the GOP’s base in Ohio believe SB 5 is about the budget.) 

A large majority Ohioans, including a majority of Democrats and a near majority of union households, support Kasich’s plan to “require public employees to pay at least 15 percent of their health insurance premiums.”  That’s about the only bright spot for SB 5’s supporters.  58% of Ohioans, however, oppose SB 5’s provision that bans public employees right to strike. 

Kasich makes Quinnipiac history

The number of Ohioans who are “very dissatisfied” with how things, in general, are going in Ohio hit a Quinnipiac record at 36%.  70% of Ohioans are either somewhat dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with what is occurring in Ohio. This is substantially worse “off track” numbers that doomed Strickland’s re-election campaign.

This means that nearly a year and half after the Great Recession ended and there is a general recognition that Ohio’s economy is in recovery there are vastly more Ohioans upset with what is going on in Ohio than during the darkest hours of the recession.  This is entirely a reflection of the public’s disapproval of the Kasich agenda.  There’s no other rational explanation for it.

Conclusion

Public opinion polling is a way to test the state of the relationship between a political official and the electorate.  So far, Kasich’s poll numbers shows he has a relationship akin to that of a quickie marriage.  January was what was supposed to be the “honeymoon” period, but Quinnipiac found that voters were largely on the fence battling their nagging skepticism while expressing optimism that things with Kasich would work out in the end.

By March, that doubt has turned in to remorse and starting to bubble up into downright hostility that leads many a quickie marriage to lead to a quickie divorce.  Kasich was elected, in part, because voters thought he’d do better on the budget than Strickland.  They’ve already concluded he hasn’t done better and in many ways he’s done much worse.

The biggest loser in Kasich’s polling over the past week is Kasich’s Communication Team.  It’s impossible to ignore it any longer.  The State of the State and the budget roll out was Kasich’s best opportunity to sell his agenda.  The Kasich Administration failed at both.  Kasich got no bump after the State of the State, nor has their concerted p.r. push on the budget won over Ohioans.  In fact, quite the opposite has occurred.  Kasich needs a new communication strategy and tactics.  That may require Kasich to shake up his communication team which has been misfiring left, right, and center before even Day One of the new Administration.

If Kasich plans on ever winning over Ohio voters, his team needs to study the Administration of Dick Celeste.  As the U.C. Ohio poll noted, Celeste was the only Governor to have had as rocky of a start this early in his term as Kasich has had (in some ways, Kasich has polled even worse.)   And yet, Celeste was able to win re-election convincingly.  Kasich must stop looking to Rhodes as his role model and start looking at Celeste.

Kasich’s more immediate problem is his relationship with the legislature.  Any hope of bipartisan victories on major policy initiatives are over.  The Democrats can rest assured that opposing Kasich is back by popular public opinion.  Republicans, many of whom were just elected, are resentful that they’re being asked to support Kasich publicly on his unpopular initiatives, especially since they are the ones who have to face the voters next year, not him.

Kasich entered office with little capital given his 49% plurality victory.  He burned it up quickly getting his JobsOhio plan passed and in attempting to pass SB 5 before the budget.

Kasich political capital Kasich enters the budget fight with nothing like in his cupboard but partisan loyalty, and even that is evaporating as his disapproval rating with Republicans outpacing the growth in his approval rating with his fellow partisans.  The negative budgetary impact of Kasich’s budget is going to be far more real and easier to understand than Kasich’s esoteric argument that this is somehow a “Jobs” budget—a concept that voters are already rejecting.

The only thing more dangerous for a Republican running for office in ‘12 in Ohio than a picture of a male politician in bed with a live boy or a dead girl is a picture of them in bed with John Kasich politically.  There are going to be even more Terry Johnson’s of the world: Republicans who will vote party-line except on high profile votes on Kasich’s agenda… and suddenly, they’ll become the Olympia Snowes of Ohio.  This, in turn, means that not only will Kasich’s agenda items, at best, pass narrowly, but he won’t even get the benefit of a party line vote.  This will just further feed the narrative that Kasich’s agenda is an extreme one that is too extreme even for some Republicans.

Kasich needs a reset button moment.  He needs to totally shift gears.  Or the man who ran promising supporters his election would “Stop Obama,” may very well single-handedly guarantee Obama’s re-election by handing the State of Ohio to him on a platter.

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