CINCINNATI -- Ohio Gov. John Kasich's job approval is at an all-time high 53 - 32 percent, the first time in two years that he tops 50 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday.
This compares to a 42 - 35 percent approval rating for Gov. Kasich in a December 11 survey by the independent Quinnipiac University, the first time the governor had a positive score.
In an early look at the 2014 reelection race, Gov. Kasich holds 6-point to 10-point leads against each of the four potential contenders for the Democratic nomination to run against him: 45 - 35 percent over Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald; 44 - 38 percent over U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray; 44 - 36 percent over U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan; 45 - 38 percent over former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton.
"What a difference a few months make," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
"Not that long ago, Democrats were licking their lips at the prospect of taking on an unpopular governor who had a disapproval rating in the 50s. Now his job disapproval rating is just 32 percent and his chances of re-election appear to be much better than they were thought to be as recently as December."
The good news for the Democrats is that Kasich does not get 50 percent of the votes against any of the four potential candidates. But he does have consistently good numbers on a number of measurements that indicate strength in the electorate, according to the poll.
Kasich has a 48 percent favorable, 32 percent unfavorable rating from Ohio voters. The number of voters who don't know enough about each of his possible challengers to form an opinion ranges from 62 percent to 80 percent.
"Obviously the governor has a substantial edge when it comes to name identification with the voters compared to his potential challengers," said Brown.
Ohio voters say 46 - 36 percent that Kasich deserves reelection. Supporting reelection are 81 percent of Republicans, 47 percent of independent voters and 17 percent of Democrats.
"Voter approval of how Kasich is handling the state budget also has improved, from a split 40 - 40 percent in December to a positive 45 - 39 percent today," said Brown.
"By 51 - 30 percent, voters say Kasich has kept his campaign promises, another positive for the governor. When Kasich assumed office, he followed a strategy of taking the political pain early in his administration in hopes that would solve problems and lead to better days down the road. We're halfway down that road now and that strategy appears to have been successful so far."
Ohio's U.S. senators, Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman both get positive reviews from voters. Portman gets a 44 - 24 percent job approval rating, while Brown gets a 51 - 33 percent score.
From February 21 - 26, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,011 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points. Live interviewers call land lines and cell phones.
The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio, Virginia and the nation as a public service and for research.
For more information visit http://www.quinnipiac.edu/polling.xml, or call (203) 582-5201, or follow Quinnipiac on Twitter.