Can Kasich win Ohio again?

Cuyahoga County Democrat Ed Fitzgerald would have a good chance of becoming Ohio’s next governor if the 2014 general election was held this month, according to a recent survey by Public Policy Polling (PPP).

The Nov. 5 and 6 poll of 595 Ohio voters, commissioned by the Ohio Democratic Party, shows Fitzgerald and Republican Gov. John Kasich neck-and-neck with each receiving 41 percent of the vote from those polled.

Libertarian candidate for governor, Charlie Earl of Bowling Green, a former state representative for the 80th District, would receive support from 6 percent of the voters polled in the PPP survey.

A Quinnipiac University poll conducted in June of this year placed Kasich 14 percentage points higher than Fitzgerald.

“It is a bit early to conduct a poll on the candidates, but people need to understand early that they’ll have a choice on the ballot,” said Molly Varner, chairwoman of the Washington County Democratic Party.

Fitzgerald made his second visit this year to the Marietta area on Saturday.

“As Ed said Saturday, Gov. Kasich’s record with working families, particularly those losing jobs at Ormet, is very clear,” Varner said, referring to criticism of the governor from folks who believe he should step in to keep the Monroe County metals plant open.

Ormet officials announced in October the facility would close after the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio had failed to lower the plant’s electricity costs from American Electrical Power. The closure has idled nearly 1,000 workers.

The Kasich Administration has said the governor’s office maintains no control over the PUCO’s decisions, and noted Ormet has been receiving discounted power rates since 2009.

“There’s only so much he can do with the PUCO. It’s an independent board, and it should remain that way,” said Leslie Haas, chairwoman for the Washington County Republican Party’s executive committee.

And I think if people look at the governor’s overall record objectively-without asking what he’s done for ‘me’-by and large Gov. Kasich is taking Ohio in a positive direction,” she said.

Local Democrat Katie McGlynn noted the 2014 general election is nearly a year away, and polls can change in that time.

“The general public may not be so interested in the polls now because a lot can happen in a year’s time,” she said. “But candidates do have to get their campaigns going earlier now because voters are able to vote early in the primary and general elections.”

McGlynn said early polling results probably say more about the incumbents than about their challengers as they may be an indication of the public’s satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the current office holder.

“And I was pretty impressed by (Fitzgerald) when he was in town,” she said. “He seems like an intelligent man who cares about people.”

Republican Andy Thompson, R-Marietta, said it’s too early for pollsters to tell anything about the gubernatorial and treasurer races.

“Polls don’t necessarily reveal much at this point in the game,” he said.

Thompson noted the Democrat-commissioned PPP poll results are likely a way for the party to try and raise their candidates’ profile in the voter’s eyes.

“My impression is that the governor is in pretty good shape as other polls beyond the PPP have shown him with a commanding lead over Fitzgerald,” he said. “And because Gov. Kasich is against Obamacare, I think he’ll do well with many voters who have become disenfranchised with that program.”

The PPP poll also indicated if the election were held this month 47 percent of those surveyed would vote for Montgomery County Democrat and current state representative Connie Pillich for state treasurer. Only 43 percent would mark ballots in favor of incumbent Republican treasurer Josh Mandel.

“I don’t think anyone knows these new candidates well enough to conduct an accurate poll at this time,” said Haas.

She said the 2014 political races won’t begin for a couple of months yet.

“We just came off the local elections-there’s some voter fatigue out there and the holidays are coming up,” Haas said. “I’m not worried about what these polls show now. The real campaigns won’t start until after the first of the year.”

Another PPP survey, in Oct. 2-3, commissioned by MoveOn.org, included the 6th District U.S. House of Representatives race between incumbent Republican Bill Johnson and Democrat challenger and former state representative Jennifer Garrison, both of Marietta.

That poll of 701 voters in the district showed Johnson leading Garrison 48 to 38. That margin changed to 49 to 41 when the Oct. 1-17th government shutdown was factored in.