APRIL 12, 2011 – If the repeal of Ohio’s Senate Bill 5 were on the ballot today, the repeal would be successful by a double-digit margin, largely on the strength of independent voters, 54% of whom favor repeal of the law, latest Wenzel Strategies telephone survey shows. Another 41% of independents said they would vote to keep Senate Bill 5 in place, according to the recent poll.
Overall, 51% said they favor repeal, compared to 38% who said they would vote to keep the new law in place. Another 11% said they were unsure on the question.
Senate Bill 5, signed into law recently by Ohio Gov. John Kasich, limits some of the items that can be negotiated during contract talks between management and public sector unions. It also prohibits such government unions from going out on strike. The measure was promoted as a needed tool to allow the state and local governments to get control of government personnel costs, but it sparked weeks of protests at the state capitol in Columbus, and energized organized labor in the state to mount a repeal effort that they are targeting for the November ballot.
Among Democrats, 73% favor repeal of Senate Bill 5, while just 10% said it should left in place. Among Republicans, 27% favor repeal, while 63% said it should be left in place.
Predictably, the northern tier of Ohio was more in favor of repeal, while southwestern Ohio was more likely to support leaving the law in place.
Senate Bill 5 triggered strong emotional responses, the survey shows. Asked if they support the law, 32% said they “strongly supported” it, while 38% said they “strongly opposed” it.
Governor Kasich appears to be caught in the political maelstrom of Senate Bill 5, as just 37% in the survey gave him positive job approval marks, compared to 56% who gave him negative marks, including 43% who said he is doing a “poor” job, the strongest negative option available to poll respondents. Even among fellow Republicans, just 65% give him positive job performance ratings, but he is clearly in trouble among independent voters – 59% of whom gave him negative marks for his job performance.
Kasich’s poor poll numbers also reflect a general downcast attitude that Ohioans now hold about the current state of the state, as just 37% said they think things are headed in the right direction, compared to 51% who said they think things are generally off on the wrong track. It is notable here that women were far more likely to have a negative view of the current state of affairs in Ohio, compared to men. While 43% of men said things were generally on the right track, only 32% of women agreed.
Those in northern Ohio, from Toledo to Cleveland to Youngstown, as well as those in southeastern Ohio, were much more likely to be downcast about the state than were those in Columbus and Cincinnati. While just 29% of those in northwest Ohio said things were on the right track – the lowest in the state – 47% of those in Cincinnati said things were generally headed in the right direction. Southwest Ohio was the only region of the state where more respondents said things are headed in the right direction than said things were off on the wrong track.
Wenzel Strategies conducted a telephone survey of likely voters statewide in Ohio on April 6-7, 2011. The survey included 1,264 respondents and carries a 95% confidence interval and a margin of error of +/- 2.72 percentage points.