Poll: Voters dislike Kasich's plans


WEDNESDAY, MARCH 23, 2011 06:28 AM

Ohio voters disapprove of Gov. John Kasich's performance.

They don't like his push to gut collective bargaining for public employees.

The budget he rolled out last week is regarded as unfair.

His plan to sell several Ohio prisons gets thumbs down, too.

A new poll today -- the first since Kasich unveiled his $55.5 billion two-year budget -- by Quinnipiac University contains almost no good news for Kasich, a Republican who took office a little more than two months ago.

"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, in a statement.

"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 pollsters could find only one major proposal backed by Kasich that Ohioans like: requiring public employees to pay at least 15 percent of their health care costs won approval from two thirds, and opposition from a little more than a quarter.

The findings were mixed on Kasich's pledge to balance the budget without raising taxes or fees. Fifty-five percent don't think he should have made such a pledge and 64 percent don't think he'll be able to keep it. Yet nearly two thirds agree with his plan to balance the budget by making only spending cuts, without tax increases.

"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," Brown said.

"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."

Voters oppose the bill to slash collective bargaining for public employees, although the depth of the opposition depends on the question wording.

Ohioans are against the provisions contained in Senate Bill 5 by 48 percent to 41 percent when asked about collective bargaining for public employees. But when asked about collective bargaining "rights" the opposition jumps to 54 percent to 35 percent.

The bill has been approved 17-16 by the Ohio Senate but currently is delayed in the House over proposals to make the measure even tougher. Virtually every Ohio and national poll has shown public opposition to proposals cutting back on collective bargaining for government workers; supporters say it's necessary to restore balance to negotiations.

"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," Brown said. "But no matter how the question is asked, voters oppose limits on collective bargaining."

Details of the litany of bad tidings for Kasich in the poll:

A total of 30 percent approve of his job performance. That's the same as in Quinnipiac's first poll, released Jan. 19. But his disapproval rating has skyrocketed, from 22 percent to 46 percent. Independents now disapprove by 49 percent to 25 percent, virtually the same breakdown as among women.
Only 31 percent approve of his handling of the state budget, with 51 percent disapproving. The same minority primarily Republicans say Kasich's cuts will improve Ohio's economy. Another 35 percent say the proposed reductions will hurt the economy, 25 percent say they won't make any difference.
By 17 points 53 percent to 36 percent Ohio voters don't think the Kasich budget is fair to people like them.
Kasich's plan to sell five state prisons to help balance the budget draws fire from 46 percent; 39 percent approve of the proposal.
While just 30 percent say Kasich's budget cuts are "about right," that's at least within shouting distance of the 40 percent who say they go too far. And 15 percent contend they don't go far enough.
By 55 percent to 37 percent, Ohio voters don't think limiting collective bargaining for public employees is necessary to help balance the state budget. And by 58 percent to 35 percent, Ohioans don't think strikes by government workers should be banned, as proposed in Senate Bill 5.
The telephone survey, which included land lines and cell phones, from March 15 through Monday of 1,384 registered Ohio voters has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

The poll is at

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