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Gubernatorial Approval Ratings Rise Noticeably After Elections

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Approval ratings for all four Upper Midwest governors rose noticeably in polls conducted by SurveyUSA directly after Election Day (November 8-11). All three incumbent governors on the ballot in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and South Dakota were victorious, and the Democrats retained control of the Iowa executive branch with Chet Culver replacing outgoing governor Tom Vilsack. Two governors received bounces so strong that it launched them to record or near record approval ratings.

In Wisconsin, Democratic governor Jim Doyle saw his job approval rating shoot up 9 points, from 46% to 55%, after languishing below 50% in 17 of 18 polls conducted by SurveyUSA dating back to May 2005. This is the highest level of approval Doyle has received by Wisconsinites in this organization's one and a half years of polling.

In South Dakota, Republican governor Mike Rounds's job rating climbed 6 points, from 64% to 70% - reaching the 70% milestone for the first time since February 2006 after he signed the state's controversial abortion ban into law.

In Minnesota, Republican governor Tim Pawlenty's rating rose 4 points, from 45% to 49%. (Although this level still marked the fifth lowest rating for newly re-elected governor in the 19 polls conducted by SurveyUSA).

Even departing Iowa Democratic Governor Tom Vilsack saw his approval rating rise 6 points from 52% to 58% -- his highest rating since March 2006 and second highest rating since SurveyUSA began monthly polling of gubernatorial ratings in May 2005.

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Political Crumbs

No 100-Year Curse for Roberts

Defeating his Tea Party primary challenger Milton Wolf with just 48.1 percent of the vote, Pat Roberts narrowly escaped becoming the first elected U.S. Senator from Kansas to lose a renomination bid in 100 years. The last - and so far only - elected U.S. Senator to lose a Kansas primary was one-term Republican Joseph Bristow in 1914. Bristow was defeated by former U.S. Senator Charles Curtis who went on to win three terms before becoming Herbert Hoover's running mate in 1928. Only one other U.S. Senator from the Sunflower State has lost a primary since the passage of the 17th Amendment: Sheila Frahm in 1996. Frahm was appointed to fill Bob Dole's seat earlier that year and finished 13.2 points behind Sam Brownback in the three-candidate primary field. Overall, incumbent senators from Kansas have won 29 times against two defeats in the direct vote era. (Curtis also lost a primary in 1912 to Walter Stubbs, one year before the nation moved to direct elections).


The Second Time Around

Former Republican Congressman Bob Beauprez became the seventh major party or second place gubernatorial candidate in Colorado to get a second chance at the office when he narrowly won his party's nomination last month. Two of the previous six candidates were successful. Democrat Alva Adams lost his first gubernatorial bid to Benjamin Eaton in 1884, but was victorious two years later against William Meyer. Democrat Charles Johnson placed third in 1894 behind Republican Albert McIntyre and Populist incumbent Governor David Waite but returned as the Fusion (Democrat/Populist) nominee in 1898 and defeated GOPer Henry Wolcott. Gubernatorial candidates who received a second chance but lost both general elections include Democrat Thomas Patterson (1888, 1914), Progressive Edward Costigan (1912, 1914), Republican Donald Brotzman (1954, 1956), and Republican David Strickland (1978, 1986).


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