While the President’s approval numbers are dropping to record lows around the country, in California and New Hampshire Obama’s approval ratings are rising.
In New Hampshire his approval numbers are up but remain relativity steady. In April voters disapproved of Obama 48:47. This month New Hampshire voters approve of the President 49:47.
The news is even brighter in California.
In May, California voters approved of Obama 49:42. This month Californians approve of the President 54:39.
Obama is drawing increased support from minority groups, but this may be more of a rebound rather than a gain. Over the last two months Hispanic voters’ support for the President has increased by almost ten points. Representing 20% of California voters, Hispanic voters are significant actors in Golden State politics. Their shift in support could have to do with Obama’s reaction to the Arizona immigration law, initially received poorly by Latinos. The President’s reinvigorated commitment to immigration reform may be the reason he has regained support amongst the Latino community in California. We saw a drop in Hispanic voters’ support across the country in May and in spike in July—it would be no surprise if the same trend was occurring in California.
There was also a pretty large increase in Republican supporter for Obama. Last month 12% of Republicans approved of Obama, this month 20% of California Republicans approve of Obama’s job in Washington. This is undoubtedly a trend we are not seeing around the country, and I am unsure of why it is occurring in California.
Things aren’t so bad everywhere for Obama after all.
While pundits have fixated on Obama’s dropping approval ratings, they have missed the headline story: governors are the truly unpopular politicians. Voters across the country are placing their frustrations, rightfully so or not, on the nation’s governors.
States are dealing with tight budgets that are getting increasingly smaller. As legislatures and governors make tough budget cuts, voters voice their frustration on the most recognizable figure: the governor. In many states, to many voters, state legislators are unknown, and governors are perceived as the most powerful state figures.
We have polled 25 states in the last six months, including job approvals for Obama, governors, and senators.In 13, or 52%, of these states, the governor has the lowest job approval margin of the four figures.In 3, or 12%, of the states, the governors were a close second-to-last.Obama was the least popular in only 3 of the states: Texas, Louisiana, and Kentucky, three traditional Republican strongholds.
New Hampshire Governor John Lynch, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe, and Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear are shining stars among a group of unpopular Governors.They are not only the most popular in their states, but they are massively popular.
But for most, the numbers are dismal.
Arnold Schwarzenegger faces the most disparaging numbers.Californians disapprove of the Governator, 71:19. His approval ratings have taken an eight-point hit in the last two months. It isn’t going well for the sitting duck who is struggling with a $20 billion deficit and is getting whacked by the gubernatorial candidates.Californians now say they prefer recalled Governor Gray Davis, who they replaced with Schwarzenegger.
It is no surprise that Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm isn’t faring well in the Great Lakes State. Michigan voters disapprove of their governor, 29:61. With 13% of its population unemployed, Michigan continues to face trying times. While many say the worst has passed in Michigan, the going isn’t easy, and readjustment to new realities isn’t going to be a walk in the park. My guess is every politician who passes through Michigan for some time is going to find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place.
However, like other states, Granholm and other Michigan officials may be receiving some misplaced anger from voters. Michigan lawmakers are playing a waiting game. Many of their initiatives can’t go into place until the U.S. Congress approves money. The current state of US Congress isn’t helping states smooth over troubling times.Though states have enjoyed the benefits of the stimulus, the budget will only get harder to balance as stimulus money runs dry and Congress continues bicker.
As Michigan and other states dealt with consequences of halted unemployment benefits, they waited desperately for the filibuster on unemployment benefits to break. Now Gov. Granholm is crossing her fingers that Congress will recover a Medicaid measure that would give her state $560 million to help provide health care for the poor. The state can’t extend the benefits without Congressional approval, so for now Granholm has her hands tied.
With the Tea Party pushing the Republican Party and Republican candidates further to the right, there are strong signs that Congress could become even more polarized next year. This could mean more logjams and less progress. With less money for states to fuel their budgets in already difficult times, there will be more unpopular governors.
Dustin here with more on Elena's post, including a table with all the approval data.
12 of the 25 governors we've polled on are leaving office, most because of term limits. It looks like legislative dictate picked the right time for 8 of them to retire--they each have net negative approval ratings, as do Jim Gibbons, who lost his primary to Brian Sandoval in Nevada, and Bill Ritter, who wisely chose to not run for another term in Colorado.
The impact on the elections is pretty clear, and the big picture looks better for Republicans than Democrats, though there are a few silver linings for Obama's party.
Of the 18 governors in the red, 11 are Democrats. 5 of them are leaving office, but 5 are up for election this year. Of those, only Massachusetts' Deval Patrick is favored to survive, though narrowly in a three-way race, with Illinois' Pat Quinn and Ohio's Ted Strickland on the precipice of defeat and Iowa's Chet Culver a sure loser. As Tom has noted, the Midwest is not looking good for Democrats this year.
While there are only two Republican governors with negative margins who are up for re-election, they both are facing close races and could lose. They are both in the Southwest, and could hurt if Hispanics continue moving toward Democrats in that region, as our polls have suggested is happening. Our April poll in Arizona had Jan Brewer down three to Terry Goddard just after the immigration bill had passed; we haven't yet gone back into that state. In June, we made a stir by showing Bill White tied with Rick Perry in Texas.
The Southwest's blue trend of the last few cycles is also seen in the fact that of the 5 Democratic governors in the negative who are leaving their seats open, three are favored to flip to the GOP (Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania), all in traditionally blue but occasionally competitive Great Lakes states. The two close races that are looking good for Democrats are in Mountain swing states New Mexico and Colorado (the latter especially so after Tom Tancredo's entry and Scott McInnis' plagiarism troubles).
Of the five Republican open seats, only one is favored to switch parties--California--though our latest poll this week showed Meg Whitman and her money bags closing in on ex-governor Jerry Brown. Alabama, Nevada, and South Carolina all lean GOP. Georgia could be a tight race; though the GOP picture has changed, our February poll showed another former head of state, Roy Barnes, leading all comers by small margins.
An interesting note: Elena focused on how many massively unpopular governors there are, but of the four states where the governor is the most popular figure of the four (Obama, the two senators, and the governor), three are Democrats--Mike Beebe of Arkansas, who is the most popular; John Lynch of New Hampshire; and Steve Beshear of Kentucky, a deeply red state at the federal level but one with a history of Democratic governors and an ostensibly Democratic registration advantage.
This week, we've been polling Washington and our monthly look at North Carolina. Those numbers start coming Tuesday, as usual, so keep your eyes peeled on this blog.
This is our first poll of the Evergreen State this year, and we'll bring you a report on the jungle primary for Senate, Murray matchups against both Rossi and Didier, Initiative 1098, Cantwell against two possible Republican opponents in 2012, and a look ahead to the 2012 open gubernatorial race.
Here in NC, it'll be interesting to see if Elaine Marshall's internal numbers hold up to our methodology. We're also polling on support for hosting the 2012 Democratic National Convention and an interesting test case that we won't spoil but that you should stay tuned to find out.
One of the interesting dynamics occurring in the Nevada Senate race right now is that Harry Reid is outrunning his approval numbers- about 10% of voters who don't approve of his job performance are planning to vote for him anyway.
The automatic assumption would be that those are folks who think Sharron Angle's too conservative, but only 40% of them actually hold that opinion. When you ask them whether Reid or Angle would be more effective as a Senator though 87% of them say Reid to only 10% for Angle.
Reid's power in Washington and ability to deliver for Nevada wouldn't really make that big of a difference if this race was in the 5-10 point range in either direction. There aren't that many voters who are going to let that trump party and ideology. But in a race that is basically 50-50 right now voters who don't like Reid but are voting for him anyway because of his effectiveness are tipping the scales. It's the kind of thing that could end up making the difference in a race that's not likely to be too slanted in one direction or another.
Overall 48% of Nevada voters think Reid would be more effective to 42% who say Angle.
Nearly 7 years after recalling him from office California voters would like to have Gray Davis back...or at least they'd rather have him than Arnold Schwarzenegger. 44% on our most recent poll said they'd rather have Davis as Governor to 38% who picked Schwarzenegger. Democrats (64%) are more unified around the desire for Davis than Republicans are around Schwarzenegger (59%), although independents do lean toward the current Governor by a 41-37 margin.
Davis is still pretty unpopular with voters in the state. 32% view him favorably to 44% with a negative opinion. It's interesting to note that -12 favorability spread is equal to Carly Fiorina's (28/40) and better than Meg Whitman's -20 at 30/50. The GOP ticket's chances would be a lot better if their candidates didn't have Gray Davis like polling numbers.
The Davis/Schwarzenegger breakdown is actually a pretty good proxy for this year's Governor's race. Voters in the state don't like Jerry Brown (or Davis) but they like Whitman (or Schwarzenegger) even less and that drives a Democratic lead.
California voters are much more charitable when looking back on the Republicans of the past. 41% say Ronald Reagan is their favorite out of the state's last six Governors with Jerry Brown the runner up but far behind at 22%. Californians aren't opposed to all Republicans, but none of the ones the party has put forward recently have come close to matching the Reagan magic.
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