In the week's PoliticsOhio, Emily McCord speaks with Bill Coehn with the Ohio Public Radio Statehouse News Bureau. Cohen breaks down the result of several of this week's Quinnipeac polls. It includes how Kasich's approval rate is sinking, mixed news on President Obama in the state, and how Ohioans feel about the new health care law. Also, Cohen reports on the national implications on collective bargaining. Ohio voters will decide its fate in November.
Emily McCord: A couple of Quinnipiac polls came out this week. Let's start Governor Kasich. Not the greatest news for him in the latest poll? What it did find?
Bill Cohen: It found that his disapproval rating is sinking even more. Back in May, those who disapproved of him in office outweighed those who liked him by about 11%. Now, his disapproval gap has widened by about 15 points. It appears to be mostly because people are upset about the new collective bargaining law that he backed and the new state budget.
EM: It's official this week. The referendum on the collective bargaining law will go on the ballot in the fall. And you met with a national union leader this week when he came to Columbus and reported this campaign will have national implications.
BC: Ohio is kind of flashpoint here. We've had similar disputes in Wisconsin and other states, but Ohio is the one of the only states, maybe the only state, where the voters get the final say on whether to pass or kill the collective bill law, a new change that weakens considerably the power of unions at the negotiating table. So, you're going to see national unions and liberal groups pour money and manpower in, perhaps millions of dollars worth, to convince Ohioans to get rid of the law. And you're going to see conservatives and Republicans and business groups, perhaps, doing the same thing on the other side, trying to pump in money and manpower trying to get people to say no, let's keep this law here'. Of course, Ohio is a swing state and a lot of people figure whatever happens in Ohio may swing to other states, so these national groups and activist think the have a lot at stake based on what happens in Ohio.
EM: Another poll took a look at how Ohioans feel about the new health care. What were the findings there?
BC: Very kind of conflicting results in a way. First the pollsters asked people look the federal health care law requires virtually everybody buy health insurance or pay a fine, what do you think about that, do you support or oppose it?' By more than a 2-1 margin, Ohioans sad they oppose it, 67% to 29%. Ten seconds later, the pollsters asked the very same people ok, you say in general you don't like the mandate, do you favor or oppose a mandate to exempt Ohioans from that mandate?' You might think that by a 2-1 margin, they'd say yes, they back the idea of exempting Ohioans from it. But instead, they were split down the middle. 48% say they support the exemption, 45% say they oppose. That's a virtual tie, very similar to the margin of error in the poll itself. Pollsters didn't go on and ask a third question which I would have loved to have them asked, which is why are you giving somewhat conflicting answers to these two questions?' I'd love to know the answer as to why and, of course, the answer would give a lot of pointers to both sides in the upcoming campaign on the kind of TV ads they should run and what the messages should be.
EM: And can you tell me about the sort of mixed news for President Obama in the Quinnipiac poll?
BC: Well, it show people are pretty lukewarm in Ohio about Obama, virtually split down the middle. They've been that way for several months. When you ask people should he be reelected, it's virtually an even split. But then when you say let's match Obama up against several Republicans, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin', well, Obama beats all of them. He only beats Romney by four points. But the others he beats by double digits.
EM: Now, is this significant, or is there still enough time for Ohioans to really form different opinions about the Republican challengers?
BC: Oh, we've got plenty of time, more than a year now. Remember what happened a few years ago when the early polls were showing that Rudy Giuliani was definitely going to be the Republican nominee and Hillary Clinton was definitely going to be Democratic nominee. That went on for months and months. The polls were showing that over and over. Turned out, those polls were wrong, well, I guess it's more accurate to say that since it was a snapshot in time, it wasn't so much that the polls were wrong but that the American people changed their minds and nominated two other candidates.