Just last month when we took a first look at the 2014 landscape we talked about how much Rick Snyder had improved his popularity during his second year in office and how he led a generic Democrat for reelection by 6 points, even as Barack Obama won the state comfortably.
Last week he threw all that out the window.
We now find Snyder as one of the most unpopular Governors in the country. Only 38% of voters approve of him to 56% who disapprove. There are only 2 other sitting Governors we've polled on who have a worse net approval rating than Snyder's -18. He's dropped a net 28 points from our last poll on him, the weekend before the election, when he was at a +10 spread (47/37).
There's not much doubt that it's the right to work law and his embrace of other actions by the Republican legislature that are driving this precipitous drop in Snyder's popularity. Only 41% of voters in the state support the right to work legislation, while 51% are opposed to it. If voters got to decide the issue directly only 40% of them say they would vote to keep the law enacted, while 49% would vote to overturn it. This comes on the heels of voters overturning Snyder's signature emergency managers law last month. The simple reality is that Michigan voters like unions- 52% have a favorable opinion of them to only 33% with a negative one.
Snyder trails every Democrat we tested against him in a hypothetical match up. He's down 49/38 to 2010 opponent Virg Bernero, 47/39 to Congressman Gary Peters, 46/38 to State Senator Gretchen Whitmer, and 44/39 to former Congressman Mark Schauer. The Bernero numbers are what's most striking there. Snyder defeated Bernero by 18 points in 2010, so Bernero's 11 point advantage represents a 29 point reversal. The Democrats all lead Snyder despite having very little name recognition- only 44% of voters are familiar with Bernero, 36% with Peters, 28% with Schauer, and 27% with Whitmer.
The Republicans in the legislature are even more unpopular than Snyder after their spate of last minute legislation.
One thing Democrats should probably skip is a Snyder recall attempt. Only 44% of voters say they would vote to recall him, while 48% are opposed to it. If that's where the numbers are at the height of the anger toward Snyder it's likely a nonstarter.
Snyder has shown some resilience already in his term. He was at a 33/50 approval spread just 3 months after taking office and had recovered to the point where he was on pretty solid ground until the actions of the last few weeks. Clearly he and the Republicans in the legislature are hoping that voters will have forgotten about this by 2014, and that they will see a recovery in their standing similar to Scott Walker in Wisconsin. It's worth noting though that Walker was at a 46/52 approval rating in early March of 2011, right after Wisconsin passed its controversial legislation. Snyder's net approval is 12 points worse than that right now. So it remains to be seen whether he can recover again.
One final note- Snyder may need to rebrand- only 32% of Michigan voters consider him to be 'one tough nerd' at this point.
Full results here