The latest Quinnipiac Poll is out and it has the best polling news the outfit has shown for Kasich since he took office.  Kasich has seen a five-point bounce in his approval rating from 35% in late July to 40%.  His disapproval rating, however, remains largely unchanged since May hovering right at the 50% mark.  This is the most popular Kasich has been since taking office and he’s still -9% under water.  Independents, who were a key part of Kasich’s victory a year ago, still largely disapprove of him more than approve at 48%/38%.  Kasich’s bounce is due in part to Republicans coming back home to him and supporting him 72% to 18%, a vast improvement from July when only 66% approved of him.  He’s also improved his standing with male voters going from a 40%/48% approval/disapproval in July to 45%/46%.  Most of Kasich’s bounce comes from those two demographics: Republicans and male voters.  The partisan nature of bounce is reflected elsewhere in the poll which show no real significant movement on fundamental questions that would indicate a broad-based improvement in Kasich standing.  49% of Ohioans believe Kasich’s budget is unfair to people like them.  Only 36% believe it’s fair.  That’s a marginal improvement from the 32%/50% in July.  Kasich’s handling of the budget still hasn’t substantially improved.  He has a 35%/53% approval/disapproval on the budget, which is not much better than the 32%/54% he had in July on the question.  And Ohioans dissatisfaction with the direction of the State is essentially unchanged from May.  All of this indicates that Kasich’s bounce is entirely Republican voter driven.

Ohioans, also, still greatly oppose Kasich’s turnpike lease proposal by a margin of 56% to 32%.  The turnpike privatization plan is popular with Republicans (with a weak 55% in support) and unpopular with everyone else (including male voters.)  Not surprisingly, the plan is downright politically toxic in the regions of Ohio that the Ohio Turnpike runs through.

It appears that Issue 2 has had an unintended consequence of having a “rally around the leader” in Republican circles.  With a major statewide campaign in full swing that many view as a referendum on Kasich, the Republican faithful are starting to fall back into line.  This is reflected in the latest polling on Issue 2 which shows it tightening, albeit still with a heavily favored lead for the repeal of SB 5.

In July, Ohioans supported repealing SB 5 by 56% to 32%, a  twenty-four point lead.  Now that the campaign is in full swing, that lead has shrunk to a thirteen point lead (51% to 38%.)  Effectively, Building a Better Ohio has been able to swing five percent of the electorate from opposing Issue 2 to supporting it. 

But if you look at the crosstabs, you start to see that it’s mostly due to Republicans coming back home to support Issue 2.  Again, a “rally around the flag” moment for the Ohio GOP.  Among registered Republican voters, support for Issue 2 went from 56% in support-35% to repeal to 65% to 23%.  So almost the entire swing for Building a Better Ohio has come from mostly Republican voters alone.  The rest comes from male voters who went from 37% (support) to 55% repeal in July to 45%-50%.  With still nearly 1/4 Republicans still opposing Issue 2, Building a Better Ohio’s only chance to win is to either pick up the remaining holdouts in their party or start to broaden their appeal beyond Republican and male voters.  Independents haven’t moved an inch since July going from favoring repeal by a nineteen-point margin in July to favoring repeal by twenty-point margin now.  Again, the polling on the individual provisions of the bill have not substantially changed since May, nor has the majority of Ohioans who believe that Issue 2 has nothing to do with balancing the State’s budget.  Like Kasich, Building a Better Ohio’s bounce seems to be almost entirely Republican-voter driven.

Across the State, opposition to Issue 2 has cooled somewhat, but still each region shows double-digits opposition to Issue 2.  It’s roughly a twelve point advantage in Southwestern Ohio, Northwestern Ohio, and Northeastern Ohio.   Only in Central Ohio and West Central Ohio does it drop down to an eight-point margin.  That’s a pretty promising map for Building a Better Ohio.

The reality is that races tighten as election day draws near, especially as members of a party start to fall back in line.  The real question for Building a Better Ohio is whether they can continue this trend by bring Republican voters home or have they essentially tapped out there and can now present a message that resonates more with independent and female voters.

To have any chance to win, Better Ohio is going to need to repeat what they’ve done in the past sixty-nine days in the next forty-two, which is difficult to believe it can do since most of the shift has been the lowest hanging fruit for them to pick up.  They’re starting to run out of Republicans they can likely get back on the reservation. They’ve got to do between now and election day something they’ve yet to do since July, make a dent with female voters and independents.    The odds still favor We Are Ohio at this point.

Have volunteers for We Are Ohio been tapped out from petition signing process?  Chances are yes.  Have they grown complacent?  Absolutely.   Will this poll perhaps reenergize and focus the We Are Ohio campaign for the final six weeks?  We’ll find out in November.

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