CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A new Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday says Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich's approval rating is virtually unchanged in the last year with the latest figure at 51 percent.
The poll among registered voters also found that Kasich maintains a slim lead over his likely Democratic challenger this fall -- Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald.
Kasich leads FitzGerald 43 percent to 38 percent in the new poll. That 5-point lead is similar to a Nov. 26 Quinnipiac University poll that showed Kasich with a 7 point lead over FitzGerald (44 percent to 37 percent).
"The race to become Ohio's next governor is a five-point game, little changed from the seven-point spread in Quinnipiac University's last survey in November," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
"Also unchanged, however, is how relatively few Ohioans – less than three in ten – know enough about Democratic favorite Ed Fitzgerald to have an opinion about him."'
Kasich's approval rating in Feb. 2013 Quinnipiac University poll was 53 percent.
Kasich is scheduled to be at Siemens' Motor Manufacturing Facility this morning in Norwood.
Majority support death penalty
The new poll also surveyed registered voters about the death penalty, a controversial issue in Ohio.
The poll found that 68 percent to 26 percent favor the death penalty.
But when asked whether they favor the death penalty or life in prison with no chance or parole, the poll found:
*47 percent favor the death penalty
*36 percent favor life in prison with no chance of parole
*12 percent favor life in prison with a chance of parole
Voters personally like Kasich
Brown said voters see the governor in a more favorable light when it comes to his personal characteristics than his handling of issues.
"They give him high grades on leadership and positive ratings on trustworthiness and good judgment, though not so much on understanding the problems of average folks," Brown said. "He gets basically even scores on handling the budget, taxes and jobs, the latter of which is cited by voters as the top priority."
The poll found that 61 percent believe Kasich is a strong leader and 52 percent say he is honest and trustworthy. However, 43 percent say he cares about their needs and problems and 47 percent say he doesn't care.
Also, the poll found Kasich with a 42 percent favorability rating and 46 percent of registered voters say he deserves re-election.
The poll says 70 percent don't know enough about FitzGerald to form an opinion.
Kasich given mixed grades on economy
The poll found 44 percent approve of Kasich's handling of the economy while 46 percent don't approve.
On other issues facing the governor and the state, the poll found:
* 44 percent approve of Kasich's handling of taxes; 40 percent don't
*44 percent approve of his handling of the state budget; 42 percent disapprove
*42 percent disapprove of his handling of health care; 36 percent approve
The poll was conducted Feb. 12-17 of 1,370 registered voters. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.7 percentage points. Live interviewers called land lines and cell phones.
The complete poll can be found here, including breakdown by party, gender and age.