COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- A poll finds the race for Ohio governor is getting closer even though many people still don't know much about the Democrat challenging Gov. John Kasich.

The latest Quinnipiac Poll, released Wednesday morning, gives Kasich a 43-38 percent lead over Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald. That's tighter than the 44-37 percent margin the poll found the race in November.

“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. 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,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.  “That is a double-edged sword for the challenger: It indicates he has not made much headway in the past three months, but it provides him an opportunity to make up ground among the vast number of voters who are unfamiliar with him.”

The poll did not include Libertarian Charlie Earl, who will also be on the ballot in November. One percent of those who responded to the poll did say they would vote for someone else.

Kasich does have a 51 percent approval rating with 36 percent disapproving of the way he's doing his job.

82 percent of Republicans told the survey they support Kasich. He leads 43-31 percent among independents and gets 11 percent of Democrats to support him. Men back the Republican 49–33 percent while women back the Democrat 42–37 percent.

46 percent of Ohioans say Kasich deserves to be reelected. 

“Voters see Gov. John Kasich in a more favorable light when it comes to his personal characteristics than his handling of issues,” said Brown. “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. He gets basically even scores on handling the budget, taxes and jobs, the latter of which is cited by voters as the top priority.”

In an open-ended question, allowing for any answer, a total of 42 percent of Ohio voters list the economy or jobs as the top priority for state government in 2014. Another 14 percent list education or education funding, followed by 5 percent who cite health care.

Pollsters also asked about the death penalty, a hot topic lately in Ohio. They found that Ohio voters favor the death penalty 68–26 percent, but when asked whether they favor the death penalty or life in prison with no chance of parole support for capital punishment dropped to 47 percent. 36 percent say they'd rather see someone locked up for life with no possibility for release, while 12 percent like life in prison with the chance for parole.

There is a total of 48 percent support for the two life options.  

“The life without parole option provides another perspective on the death penalty debate, with significant partisan, gender and age divisions,” Brown said.

From February 12 – 17, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,370 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.7 percentage points.  Live interviewers call land lines and cell phones.