With less than a hundred days to go until the November election, Gov. John Kasich maintains a double digit lead over challenger Ed FitzGerald in the latest non-partisan Quinnipiac University poll.
Kasich leads 48% to 36% among all voters. Perhaps more importantly he holds a 47% to 28% edge with Independents.
"Not only does Kasich hold a solid lead, but he also is viewed as better able to handle the economy and jobs and even normally Democratic issues such as abortion and health care," said Quinnipiac pollster Peter Brown. "He also has the edge on character traits. And 50 percent or more of voters say he deserves another term and think he is doing a good job in his first term in office."
FitzGerald has aired one television ad so far this year but apparently it has had little effect on building his name identification.
The poll finds 65% of voters don't know enough about FitzGerald to have an opinion of him.
"FitzGerald is gaining little or no ground in his bid to unseat Kasich and still has a long way to go," said Brown. "An awful lot of Ohioans still have to be introduced to him."
Republican media strategist Bob Clegg says while the poll results are good for Kasich, there is still an opening for FitzGerald.
"There's one part of this poll the Kasich team needs to be concerned about and that's the part that shows FitzGerald a blank slate with two-thirds of registered voters," said Clegg. "That gives him a lot of room to grow and improve his numbers as people get to know him."
FitzGerald has lagged way behind Kasich in critical fundraising and Clegg says that is the part that will hurt him most.
"Does FitzGerald have the time and money to fill that blank slate with two thirds of voters," said Clegg. "I don't think he does."
FitzGerald hopes to gain traction against Kasich this fall by reuniting the Senate Bill 5 coalition of police officers, firefighters, nurses and teachers.
But the poll shows that may not be enough to offset the growing view that Ohio's economy has improved during Kasich's watch.
The governor's approval rating is 55%, while his favorability rating is 46%.
"Four out of five voters say Kasich's largest embarrassment as governor - the SB5 fiasco - is important to their vote," said Brown. "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."
Another number sure to cause concern in the FitzGerald camp, 60% of voters say they are very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the way things are going in the state.