There are many Republican politicians who will be carpetbagging into New Hampshire soon, where the first big rodeo testing which White House hopeful can ride the bucking bronc of national politics before being thrown off will take place in a couple weeks. In Ohio, Gov. Kasich is certainly a household name by now, following five years of media saturation that includes his run for governor and his four-plus years holding office.
While Kasich now has tremendous notoriety at home, fueled by blanket coverage from Ohio’s media, trailing him at every event as he teases about running for president, he still suffers nationally from the same name recognition problem his gubernatorial opponent Ed FitzGerald had in Ohio last year.
The governor won big in 2014 on a percentage basis, but upon closer scrutiny, fewer than one-in-four registered voters out of an embarrassingly low turnout of 36.2 percent—the lowest since World War II—bothered to vote for him. In poll after poll last year, Ed FitzGerald, the early-on endorsed candidate of the Ohio Democratic Party to take on the incumbent Kasich, suffered from few Ohioans knowing little if anything about him.
The same lack of name recognition or awareness for John Kasich, on a national scale, is a fact Mr. Kasich cannot ignore like he does so much else. While more candidates like Senators Paul and Rubio ready their declarations to run, Gov. Kasich is waiting for a signal from someone else before he gets on the bucking bronc.
Interviewed recently by one Fox News TV host, he said he’s waiting for “the Lord” to tell him whether to run or not. In the meanwhile, until that blessed event happens, Gov. Kasich and his team are running a peek-a-boo campaign that has him speaking in red Republican states out west and the Deep South. Speaking before safe Republic audiences, his gambit has been about imposing fiscal discipline on Congress. Always a standard favorite for GOP warriors, Gov. Kasich grinds on about the need for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S Constitution. The odds that Kasich’s Quixotic campaign can achieve this feat anytime soon is a long-shot at best and never at worst. But Gov. Kasich loves playing Peck’s Bad Boy, and linking arms to climb a mountains is one of his favorite group activities and metaphors.
When his name is polled— and it often isn’t—along with the baker’s dozen of other candidates, from Jeb Bush, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio to Chris Christie or the Lone Star duo of Rick Perry or Ted Cruz—who became the first among them all to declare his candidacy—Gov. Kasich registers in the single digits, and by single digits that means the number one.
An AP-sourced story running on ABC News’s Website, that brought into question his easily irritated and often abrasive personality as a factor that could turn people off to him, offered a taste to Kasich of what FitzGerald fought last year. The news service reported that Ohio’s go-go CEO governor is little known in New Hampshire, where 7 in 10 voters don’t have an opinion of him. “His obscurity was evident when he visited a New Hampshire community college. ‘I’m in politics. Did you know that?’ Kasich asked 19-year-old Eric Butler after they’d chatted for several minutes about sports and education. ‘Not until now,’ Butler responded.”