Taft's approval rating rises, but doesn't crack 50 percent

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - While a majority of Ohioans continue to disapprove of Gov. Bob Taft's performance as governor, the two-term Republican's approval rating is improving, according to a poll released Monday.

The Ohio Poll found that 47 percent of Ohioans approve of the job Taft is doing as governor, up from 44 percent in September. Two previous polls in 2003 found Taft's approval rating at 40 percent.

The last time a majority of Ohioans approved of Taft's job performance was in September 2002 when he achieved a 66 percent approval rating.

The poll released Monday found that 43 percent disapproved of the job Taft is doing, down from 46 percent in September.

Asked whether his and Bush's low approval ratings in Ohio would affect the president's re-election campaign in the state, Taft (pictured, above) said he already expected the race to be close because Ohioans are divided on many major public policy issues.

An Ohio Poll released last week found that 49 percent of Ohioans disapproved of Bush's job performance.

"We have no illusions about this being an easy race. It's going to be very tough. It's going to go right down to the wire," Taft said at a National Governors Association meeting in Washington, D.C.

The Taft telephone poll of 842 adults was conducted by the University of Cincinnati's Institute for Policy Research from Jan. 30 through Feb. 10. It had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Taft spokesman Orest Holubec said the governor was not interested in poll numbers.

"The governor's going to continue to focus on improving the economic climate in the state and creating new jobs," Holubec said. "The No. 1 concern of Ohioans right now is the economy."

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)