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After a narrow victory in 2010 and a polarizing first year in office, Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich was one of Democrats’ top gubernatorial targets. But now, some Democrats acknowledge an uptick in the Republican’s job approval numbers, and Kasich barely cracks the list of top five vulnerable Republican governors.

Democrats have coalesced behind Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald and believe he can run up the margins in Democratic-rich Northeast Ohio.

But the party may have President Barack Obama to blame for their difficulties. The president spent tens of millions of dollars in last year’s presidential contest talking about economic rebound in Ohio. Now Kasich stands to benefit from that optimism.

A June 18-23 Quinnipiac University survey showed Kasich with a 54 percent job approval rating compared with 32 percent disapproval. Forty-nine percent of registered voters said the governor deserves re-election, while 37 percent said he does not.

This race is far from over, but it looks like Kasich has gained a very small but distinct advantage. We’re moving the race from Pure Tossup to Tossup/Tilt Republican in the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call ratings.

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