COLUMBUS -- Gov. John Kasich continues to outpace Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald among Ohio voters, with half of those surveyed recently by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute saying the Republican incumbent deserves another term.
Most also remain focused on public employee collective bargaining, recalling the ugly Senate Bill 5 debate of Kasich's first year, but many of those same voters say it won't really affect their ballot selection November.
"Four out of five voters say Kasich's largest embarrassment as governor -- the SB 5 fiasco -- is important to their vote," Peter Brown, assistant director of the polling institute, said in a released statement. "Many voters say the fight over collective bargaining makes them less likely to vote for Kasich, but a plurality says it won't affect their choice."
Connecticut-based Quinnipiac regularly gauges Ohioans' opinions on candidates and issues.
It polled 1,366 voters over the past week on their opinions of Kasich and FitzGerald. The results have a margin of error of about 3 percentage points.
Among other results, voters said they were backing Kasich over FitzGerald by a 48 percent-36 percent margin. That compares to 50 percent-35 percent in Quinnipiac's post-primary survey in May.
A majority of voters (55 percent) also approve of Kasich's work in office.
Half say he deserves another term, while 37 percent said the opposite.
Sixty-five percent of those questioned said they still don't know enough about FitzGerald to form an opinion about him.
"County Executive Ed FitzGerald is gaining little or no ground in his bid to unseat incumbent Gov. John Kasich," Brown said. "The Democratic nominee still has a long way to go with little more than three months until Election Day. Almost two-thirds of registered voters don't know enough about FitzGerald to have an opinion of him. That's an awful lot of Ohioans who still have to be introduced to him."
The poll was conducted just as the FitzGerald hit the airwaves with its first television ads.
And backers remain confident in their candidate.
"Gov. Kasich's record of giving tax breaks to the most well off and paying for them by raising taxes on the middle class hasn't worked for everyday Ohioans," Lauren Hitt, FitzGerald's campaign spokeswoman, said in a released statement. "We are confident that, when voters are fully engaged in this race, our strong grassroots campaign, digital outreach and paid media will make clear that it is Ed FitzGerald who is fighting for everyday Ohioans."
But the Ohio Republican Party said the poll results show that Ohioans "recognize that Gov. Kasich has the state moving in the right direction."
Ohio GOP spokesman Chris Schrimpf added in a released statement, "After Ohio lost 350,000 jobs and faced an $8 billion budget hole under the last Democratic administration, Ohio has added over a quarter million private sector jobs under Gov. Kasich and he balanced Ohio's budget while reducing taxes by $3 billion. That's why Ohioans trust the governor on the major issues of jobs, the budget, and taxes and why they support the job he is doing."