The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Brent Larkin, apparently, is a John Kasich fanboy, who is quick to dismiss the nearly ‘06 Ken Blackwellian beating Kasich’s Issue 2 took in the polls last week.  And he’s utterly convinced that Kasich’s agenda isn’t unpopular, just that Kasich personally is:

On many major issues of the day, Kasich still has the right message. Big problems, which Ohio has, require bold solutions.

Boldness doesn’t scare Kasich the way it has scared most Ohio governors.

So if it’s not the message, it must be the messenger.

Whaaat?!?  Logical syllogism fail.  Look, there are other ways to have a “bold agenda” than Kasich’s agenda.  Simply because Larkin believes Kasich has the “right message” and that Ohio needs bold solutions, he concludes that voter opposition to Kasich can’t possibly be due to the message.  Even after more people voted against the message of John Kasich in 2011 than voted for the messenger in 2010.

Larkin suffers from the Cult of Frank Luntz’s focus group school of political philosophy that believes voters are generally morons, who are never persuaded by policy, but only more trivial notions like who they’d have a beer with.  To Larkin, it is virtually impossible to believe that Kasich is unpopular because he’s an asshole and his policies stink.  Larkin must honestly believe that had Kasich honed his presentation, but kept the same policies, he’d have a 60% approval rating by now.

The first clue came a year ago, when Kasich beat incumbent Ted Strickland by fewer than 100,000 votes in an election he should have won by at least a quarter-million.

Says who?  Seriously, what orifice does Larkin pull this claim from?  We get it, you didn’t like Governor Ted Strickland.  Your anti-Strickland screeds during his entire term made that perfectly clear, Brent.  But you’re in short company there.  The rest of Ohioans really didn’t have a huge problem with Strickland, who left office with a roughly 45% approval rating that Kasich has yet to come close to reaching.  In fact, at least one reputable national poll outfit (which accurately predicted the spread on Issue 2) finds that Strickland would crush Kasich in a rematch by eighteen points.

Strickland didn’t have the reputation, but he was able to do some very “bold” things in Ohio, like Ohio’s alternative, renewable energy portfolio, creating a forward-thinking energy policy for the State that didn’t rely predominately on coal and fracking.  He was able to institute teacher merit pay in half the school districts in Ohio through the Race to the Top, which wasn’t as controversial as Kasich’s plan because Strickland developed it in a collaborative effort bringing labor and management together while providing districts with the additional funds to meet his mandates of innovation.  The Centers of Innovation throughout the State is the strategy Kasich has largely adopted and rebranded under his new JobsOhio partnership with local Chambers.  Eric Fingerhut, Chancellor of the Board of Regents under Strickland, created the University System of Ohio that sought to bring Ohio’s competing colleges and universities into a cohesive system that focused on regional needs and economic development.

Strickland wasn’t considered “bold” by Larkin because he was able to sell his agenda in a bipartisan manner, and didn’t create the headline-dominating controversies Kasich has.  But boldness is not measured in the public outrage and opposition it generates.

Furthermore, there’s plenty of public polling data to refute Larkin’s nonsense.  Earlier this year, Quinnipiac showed that Kasich’s proposals to privatize prisons and the turnpike were largely unpopular, and lately, the Quinnipiac Poll has shown that voters largely disapprove of Kasich’s budget.


But that’s not all. The Ohio AFL-CIO has leaked to the Huffington Post a copy of the last Issue 2 poll of likely voters done in the campaign for the We Are Ohio side.  Yes, this is an union-sponsored campaign poll, but Hart Research Associates is a very well-respected poll outfit, who must be able to produce frank and accurate polls in order to give campaigns the guidance they need to make strategic decisions, and it was not released to the public until after the election.  (It also nailed the predicted actual vote on Issue 2, and if anything shows Kasich’s approval rating being higher than other public polls have shown.)

It found that after being told of Mitt Romney and Rick Perry’s support of Issue 2, roughly half of the electorate was less likely to vote for them next year in the ‘12 Presidential race as a result.  When asked for the job approval of the state legislature, voters gave it a 38% approval to a 51% disapproval rating, with “Strongly Disapprove” constituting the largest segment of voter sentiment getting 37% of the responses.  (In other words, just as many people strongly disapprove of the legislature as strongly and somewhat approve combined.)  Again, this would suggest that opposition to Issue 2 had nothing to do with personality as Mitt Romney has none, and that’s all Rick Perry apparently has going for him.

60% of Ohioans in the poll said that if Issue 2 was defeated, then the legislature should abandon it rather than revisit the issue and try to pass something similar again.  56% said they were less likely to vote for an incumbent legislator who voted to pass a version of SB 5 again after Issue 2 was defeated.  After all, the defeat of Issue 2 has a stronger mandate than Kasich got, and nobody outside of Shannon Jones seemed to run in 2010 with any mention of collective bargaining reform.  Unless someone can present polling data otherwise, it’s hard to see the kind of rejection we saw in Issue 2 and read a mandate for the legislature to try again.  Voters, apparently, meant to permanently kill the issue and urge the legislature to move on.

It would seem, from the mountain of public polling data and the results of Tuesday’s election, that opposition to Issue 2 was driven by policy considerations, not personality.  If Brett Larkin can present evidence to the contrary, he would have to support his ridiculous column.  The notion that Issue 2 would have passed if Kasich would have just asked organized labor to kindly go die in a fire is absurd.  It’s the work of deluded supporters of Kasich who cannot comprehend that they are part of a small minority and are trying to rationalize that the rest of Ohio either voted for superficial reasons (they don’t like Kasich personally, and aren’t making a policy judgment) or that the rest of Ohio was somehow duped.

It’s the arrogance of a minority that can’t comprehend why John Kasich, a guy who wasn’t even given a mandate when he won a year ago, could be rebuked by voters on a policy proposal so controversial that Kasich didn’t mention it at all until after the election because Kasich knew it would have cost him the election had he announced his intentions sooner.