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Minnesota's Approval of Pawlenty Job Performance Remarkably Stable

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Tim Pawlenty heads into his second term on the heels of a very narrow, plurality vote victory last month, and the prospects of having to work with a DFL-controlled state House for the first time in his administration, as well as a state Senate facing ever declining GOP representation. However, the Republican governor can still take solace in the fact that his job approval rating has remained fairly strong, and remarkably consistent throughout his first four years—especially when compared with that of his predecessor, IP Governor Jesse Ventura.

Pawlenty's job approval ratings have largely hovered in the mid-50s throughout most of his tenure. For example, in eight Minnesota Polls conducted during Pawlenty's term his rating has ranged only 11 percentage points—from a high of 60% (February 2003) to a low of 49% (September 2003). And in six polls since January 2004, Pawlenty's rating has remained between 54 and 58 percent. The latest SurveyUSA poll (conducted in December 2006) likewise measures Pawlenty's approval rating at 57%.

Jesse Ventura's approval rating, on the other hand, was much more of a rollercoaster. In 16 Minnesota Polls conducted between January 1999 and December 2002, Ventura's rating hit a high of 72% (in his first month of office, January 1999), and a low of 40% (in his last month, December 2002). However, Ventura's descent was not continuous—after falling to 62% in June 2000, Ventura eclipsed 70% once again in August 2000 and then again as late as January 2001, two years after he took office. A majority, though declining number, of Minnesotans still approved of Ventura's job performance through December 2001; it wasn't until 2002, the last year of Ventura's administration, that he began to experience approval ratings in the 40s.

Pawlenty's personality and policy positions are not as controversial as his predecessor; nor are they therefore as likely to become water cooler topics. As a result, at first glance, it is not too surprising the Governor has avoided the kind of hot and cold approval of his constituency that Ventura endured. However, Pawlenty's current strong ratings in a state that turned on Republicans with a passion in 2006 is rather remarkable, and a sign that the Governor has, to his credit, truly won over Minnesota centrists.

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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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