COLUMBUS, Ohio (CGE) – Who knows what former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland is dreaming about these days, but if he’s been reading recent polls, like the one released Wednesday by Quinnipac University that shows the man who beat him last fall by only 77,133 votes is taking a drubbing by Ohio voters, I’m sure he’s dreaming that what happened to him last year is just a JR Ewing Dream that will be gone once he wakes up.
But his loss last year wasn’t a dream. But Ohio voters may have woken up. The reality of Gov. Kasich’s first months on the job is that Ohio voters now disapprove 46 – 30 percent of the way he is handling his job, with women disapproving 48 – 25 percent and men disapproving 44 – 37 percent, according to the Quinnipiac University poll released today. Voters say 53 – 36 percent that Gov. Kasich’s first two-year budget is unfair to them.
Voters oppose legislation working its way through the Ohio legislature that would limit the ability of public workers to collectively bargain, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe- ack) University survey finds. But the question wording has some influence on voter response:
* Half of those surveyed were asked about a bill that limited “collective bargaining,” and oppose the measure 48 – 41 percent;
* The other half were asked about a bill that limited “collective bargaining rights,” and oppose that measure 54 – 35 percent.
“Gov. John Kasich has gotten off to a rocky start with Ohio voters, perhaps not surprising given the size of the cuts in public services and state spending that he has proposed,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling institute. “Although there is almost nothing in these numbers that Kasich can point to as evidence of his popularity or that of his proposals, he can take solace from the fact that he has almost four years to turn around public opinion.
“The size of the gender gap in Gov. Kasich’s approval rating is noteworthy. There also are gender gaps on other questions regarding how to deal with the state’s budget.
“Whether collective bargaining is a right or not is in the eye of the beholder, but the word ‘right’ appears to have an effect on the voters’ response. But no matter how the question is asked, voters oppose limits on collective bargaining.”
By 55 – 37 percent voters say Kasich should not have pledged to meet the state’s projected $8 billion budget deficit by only cutting spending and not raising taxes. And by 64 – 23 percent they say he will not keep that no-tax pledge, even though he presented a balanced budget plan that in fact does not raise levies. Critics of Kasich said there will be new taxes, just not at the state level, as local governments will be faced with either cutting services, the people who deliver them or raising taxes to keep it all as it is now.
Then when given a choice of balancing the budget only by spending cuts, or by combining them and tax increases to reduce the amount of cuts needed, by 65 – 27 percent voters opted for not raising levies at all.
“It’s a pretty fair bet that the controversy over the Kasich proposals has made him and them unpopular with voters. Yet when voters are asked about his general approach of cutting but not taxing, that policy does much better in the court of public opinion,” said Brown. “At this point, Kasich has not convinced voters, especially women, that he is being fair, and he is on the wrong side of the collective bargaining issue which has received major attention.”
Republicans approve of Kasich’s job performance 63 – 18 percent, but his disapproval is 67 – 11 percent among Democrats and 49 – 25 percent among independent voters.
Kasich’s budget proposal is fair to people like them, Republicans say 63 – 25 percent. Democrats say it’s unfair 73 – 17 percent, as do independent voters 57 – 32 percent.
Men say “unfair” 49 – 43 percent and women say “unfair” 57 – 29 percent.
Voters oppose 58 – 35 percent banning public employees from striking, but they support 66 – 27 percent the part of Kasich’s budget that would require public employees to pay at least 15 percent of their health insurance premiums.
By 46 – 39 percent voters oppose Kasich’s plan to sell five state prisons to private firms as a way to save money.
From March 15 – 21, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,384 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.6 percentage points. Live interviewers call land lines and cell phones.
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