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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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Remains of the Data

Gender Equality in the US House: A State-by State Quarter-Century Report Card (1989-2014)

A study of 5,325 congressional elections finds the number of female U.S. Representatives has more than tripled over the last 25 years, but the rate at which women are elected to the chamber still varies greatly between the states.

Political Crumbs

Small Club in St. Paul

Mark Dayton is one of just three Minnesotans ever elected to three different statewide offices. Dayton, of course, had previously served as State Auditor (1991-1995) and U.S. Senator (2001-2007) before winning the governorship in 2010. At that time, he joined Republicans Edward Thye and J.A.A. Burnquist on this very short list. Burnquist was elected governor in 1914 but then became governor after the death of Democrat Winfield Hammond in 1915. He then won the gubernatorial elections of 1916 and 1918 and eight terms as attorney general two decades later (1939-1955). Thye was similarly first elected lieutenant governor of the Gopher State and became governor after the resignation of fellow GOPer Harold Stasson in 1943. Thye won one additional full term as governor in 1944 and then two terms to the U.S. Senate (1947-1959). Twenty Minnesotans have been elected to two different statewide offices.


Respect Your Elders?

With retirement announcements this year by veteran U.S. Representatives such as 30-term Democrat John Dingell of Michigan, 20-term Democrat George Miller of California, and 18-term Republican Tom Petri of Wisconsin, it is no surprise that retirees from the 113th Congress are one of the most experienced cohorts in recent decades. Overall, these 24 exiting members of the House have served an average of 11.0 terms - the second longest tenure among retirees across the last 18 cycles since 1980. Only the U.S. Representatives retiring in 2006 had more experience, averaging 11.9 terms. (In that cycle, 10 of the 11 retiring members served at least 10 terms, with GOPer Bill Jenkins of Tennessee the lone exception at just five). Even without the aforementioned Dingell, the average length of service in the chamber of the remaining 23 retirees in 2014 is 10.2 terms - which would still be the third highest since 1980 behind the 2006 and 2012 (10.5 terms) cycles.


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