Ohio Gov. John Kasich certainly has the luck of the Croations working for him—and $3 million so far in promotional advertising—which could be the tiny tick-up he needs to land one of ten seats on the Fox News Channel’s GOP debate bus headed for Cleveland next Thursday.

With the bar set so low, the governor of Ohio can make the cut, sparing him the embarrassment of being lumped in with everyone else. Now that he’s leaving his conservative record of nearly five years in Ohio behind him, the message he’s delivering to ears of virgin New Hampshire voters—”Let’s come together and do what we all know needs to be done: balance our nation’s budget, create jobs by cutting taxes, help our fellow Americans who live in the shadows move up, get smart about making health care affordable and help make the world a safer place—will sound like siren’s sweetly singing.

It’s basic Kasich, pull in your horns and be folksy as you sing the feel-good promises promised in 2010, then again last year when his big mid-term election win actually amounted to no more than one in four registered voters bothering to vote for him.

Had Gov. Kasich’s Democratic candidate not imploded last year—a crash aided in large part by statehouse media that hunted the major-party opponent like a dentist stalking a prized lion while giving the quirky and sometimes jerky governor a get-out-of-jail-free card—the impressive 2-1 percentage drubbing Kasich gave Ed FitzGerald would have been far closer even though it was the lowest voter turnout [36.2%] since World War II. Registered Democratic voters outnumber registered Republicans by more than 700,000, so when voter turnout is up, Democrats have a fighting chance, but when voter turnout is down, as it was last year, Republicans like Kasich can win impressively even though the results, when measured by other criteria, take the blush off the bloom.

$3 Million And Counting

Ohio and national media are now swooning over the governor’s rise in polling after he declared on July 21 that he’s in the race for president. I believe that if $3 million were spent to advertise anyone, would it be any more surprising that that someone would appear on some radar screens than it is that Mr. Kasich, who’s worked tirelessly at the business of professional political perceptions over a span of nearly 40 years, ticks up in the polls? Maybe if he spent $6 million, the high percentage of voters who don’t know who he is or what his credentials are would also dip? He might as well be Arby’s new “Heartland” sandwich, which has lots of bread and mayo but is light on the meat.

All eyes were all over the latest Quinnipiac national poll released Thursday morning showing 20 percent of Republican voters like New York real estate Titan Donald Trump as their GOP leader of choice. Trump scores big among his band of GOP wannabees, including John Kasich, but the billionaire who has Republicans Verklempt over his rise to political stardom still trails any of three leading Democratic contenders by wide margins in general election matchups.

Kasich Rising

The new national Q-poll asked 1,644 registered voters nationwide,  “If the Republican primary for President were being held today, and the candidates were Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, Donald Trump, and Scott Walker, for whom would you vote?”

In descending order, the top ten candidates are: Donald Trump [20%], Scott Walker [13%], Jeb Bush [10%], Ben Carson [6%], Mike Huckabee [6%], Rand Paul [6%], Marco Rubio [6%], John Kasich [5%], Chris Christie [3%] and Bobby Jindal [2%] and Rick Perry [2%].

Kasich has spent $3 million already and will have to spend more to chip away at the 70 percent of Granite State voters who haven’t heard enough about him, Q-polling notes. Kasich’s favorable totals are low at just 16 percent, which is only slightly higher than his 13 percent unfavorable rating.

A CNN/Opinion Research poll released last Sunday shows him at four percent nationally, so more showings like this says Neil Newhouse, a partner with Public Opinion Strategies, could give the Buckeye State’s hard-right governor masquerading as a moderate the juice he needs to be seated at the big table instead of the kid’s table reserved for the rest of the GOP field.