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Governors Doyle, Culver Getting Low Marks While Pawlenty Prevails

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As economic concerns continue to fuel pessimism about the near future, Democratic Governors Jim Doyle (Wisconsin) and Chet Culver (Iowa) face the lowest ratings of their gubernatorial careers. Meanwhile, Minnesota Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty has managed quite successfully to remain fairly popular with his statewide constituency.

Culver, who comes from a family of politicians, was sworn into office 15 months ago, and has seen his approval ratings fall to 45 percent in mid-March—down 14 points from 59 percent in early January 2008 (SurveyUSA) when the Iowa caucuses were being held in his state. Culver stayed above the fray and did not endorse a candidate at that time, although his wife did endorse John Edwards. (Governor Culver endorsed Barack Obama a month later).

Doyle (who also has endorsed Obama), meanwhile, has never been a popular governor in the Badger State, winning close elections in both 2002 (3.7 points) and 2006 (7.4 points). The polling firm SurveyUSA has found Doyle to boast an approval rating of above 50 percent in just 2 of its 34 consecutive monthly polls dating back to May 2005. The firm recently measured Doyle's approval rating at an abysmal 39 percent, just one month after being re-elected, in December 2007. Rasmussen's late March poll of likely Wisconsin voters found only 33 percent considered Doyle to be doing an "excellent" or "good" job—another all-time low for the Democratic governor.

Tim Pawlenty, meanwhile, continues to remain relatively popular with Minnesotans, despite the state's recent history of voting Democratic in the majority of statewide and district races. Pawlenty seems to have gained favor with the state by adhering to his strong anti-tax stance (which resulted in a veto override recently by the state legislature). Pawlenty's latest approval rating numbers show him hovering at just above 50 percent (51 percent in mid-March), and the GOP governor has dipped below that mark just 5 times in 34 consecutive monthly polls by SurveyUSA. The trend line does show some concern for the Governor, however: 59 percent approval in August 2007, 57 percent in September and November, 56 percent in December 2007 and January 2008, 52 percent in February, and 51 percent in March.

None of these Upper Midwestern Governors are up for re-election in 2008, though their relative popularity or unpopularity could impact the presidential races in these battleground states at the margins.

Previous post: Economic Conerns Continue to Dominate Upper Midwest
Next post: Extended Democratic Primary Gives McCain a Boost in Wisconsin

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Final Four Has Presidential Approval

By edging Michigan in the final seconds Sunday, the University of Kentucky guaranteed that one school in the Final Four this year would be located in a state that was not carried by President Barack Obama in 2012. (Connecticut, Florida, and Wisconsin had previously earned Final Four slots over the weekend). Across the 76 Final Fours since 1939, an average of 3.1 schools have been located in states won by the president's ticket during the previous election cycle. All four schools have come from states won by the president 29 times, with the most recent being the 2009 Final Four featuring Connecticut, Michigan State, North Carolina, and Villanova. On 30 occasions three Final Four schools have been located in states won by the president, with two schools 11 times and only one school six times (the most recent being 2012 with Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, and Ohio State). There has never been a Men's NCAA Division I Final Four in which no schools were located in states carried by the president's ticket.


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