Even as Mitt Romney's fortunes in Ohio appear to have taken a turn for the worse, another Republican is riding high in the Buckeye State.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) speaks to voters in the runup to a ballot referendum on union rights in November. Kasich lost the battle, but a new poll shows he's now more popular than ever. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

It's once-embattled Gov. John Kasich (R).

Less than a year after he lost a big fight with the state's labor unions on a ballot referendum (and acknowledged the defeat in very candid fashion), Kasich's political brand is on the rise. A new Washington Post poll, in fact, suggests he's now among the more popular governors in the country.

According to the Post poll, 52 percent of registered Ohio voters now approve of Kasich's job performance, compared to 37 percent who disapprove. His splits are even better -- 56 percent positive and 31 percent negative -- among independents.

Those are Kasich's best numbers in any poll since his inauguration in January 2011, and they are essentially reversed from mid-2011, when some polls showed his approval rating stuck in the low 30s.

Other polls have shown Kasich making a similar turnaround in recent weeks -- including a CBS News/New York Times/Quinnipiac University poll that showed 48 percent approving of Kasich and 35 percent disapproving.

New Washington Post polls also have some good news for Republican governors in two other swing states.

In Virginia, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) continues to be very popular, with 58 percent approving and just 27 percent disapproving. McDonnell even gets the approval of 38 percent of Democrats, compared to 40 percent who disapprove.

And Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), who was once even more unpopular than Kasich, has now seen his approval rating surpass his disapproval rating. Forty-six percent approve of his job performance, while 45 percent disapprove. The opposition to Scott remains very strong, though, with 35 percent of registered Florida voters strong disapproving of his job performance.

While a year ago it appeared as though unpopular swing state governors like Kasich and Scott could be liabilities for the GOP in the presidential race, it now appears someone like Kasich could actually help Romney.

More than anything, though, it suggests that a year is a long time in politics.

Scott Clement contributed to this report.