Democrat Ed FitzGerald has formally been a candidate for governor since April. His campaign says he has been in nearly all of Ohio's 88 counties. And yet, according to a survey released yesterday by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, 71 percent of Buckeye voters still don't know who FitzGerald is, a potentially huge vulnerability for the one-term Cuyahoga County executive against Republican incumbent John Kasich next fall.
Democrat Ed FitzGerald has formally been a candidate for governor since April. His campaign says he has been in nearly all of Ohio’s 88 counties.
And yet, according to a survey released yesterday by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, 71 percent of Buckeye voters still don’t know who FitzGerald is, a potentially huge vulnerability for the one-term Cuyahoga County executive against Republican incumbent John Kasich next fall.
“One of the problems for Mr. FitzGerald will be that because his name recognition is so low, that he will have to spend an inordinate amount of time introducing himself to voters before he can tell them what he wants to do,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the polling institute. “ That conversation will obviously be an expensive one because it involves lots of television.”
FitzGerald’s name recognition has improved by only a few percentage points since Quinnipiac’s last Ohio survey, in June, and his relative anonymity is something a well-funded incumbent like Kasich could look to exploit on TV. Two other bad omens for FitzGerald, who would become the first Democrat to defeat an incumbent GOP governor in Ohio since 1958: FitzGerald trailed Kasich among women (39 percent for Kasich to 38 percent) and led among African-Americans with 68 percent — a low figure for a Democrat.
“A Democrat who gets 68 percent of the black vote is a Democrat who loses in a state like Ohio,” Brown said, noting that FitzGerald recently announced Senate Minority Leader Eric H. Kearney (who is African-American) as his running mate.
But the poll wasn’t great for Kasich, either. He leads FitzGerald 44 percent to 37 percent head to head, but Kasich’s 14-point lead from June has shrunk in half. And that’s against a candidate nearly three-quarters of the state doesn’t know.
Kasich’s job approval is 52 percent — good for an incumbent but down from 54 percent in June. Voters said Kasich deserves another term by 48 percent to 39 percent.
“It’s always better to be ahead than behind, and although 7 points is less than it had been, it’s still a nice lead,” Brown said.
Fifty-one percent said expanding Medicaid — which Kasich won approval for despite objections from Republican lawmakers — was a good idea, though 24 percent of GOP voters said the maneuver made it less likely that they would support Kasich.
Libertarian Charlie Earl, the candidate who could benefit if Republicans defect from Kasich — if Earl makes the ballot — was not included in the latest poll.
The live telephone survey by the Connecticut-based university of 1,361 registered Ohio voters from Nov. 19 through Sunday has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points. It included both land lines and cellphones.