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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

No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

Political Crumbs

Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


An Idaho Six Pack

Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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