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Pawlenty Disapproval Numbers Increasing Amid VP Talk

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Although Minnesota Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty is not beloved by all in the Gopher State, he has maintained a consistent level of job approval throughout his gubernatorial tenure. In nearly 60 public opinion polls of Minnesotans conducted since early 2003, Pawlenty has dipped below the 50 percent mark in job approval in less than 10 of them.

Pawlenty enjoyed some of the best marks of his career in 2007, when his most notable actions included a firm stance against the DFL on tax issues in the state. Overall, across more than a dozen polls that year, Pawlenty had an average job approval rating of 56 percent, with just a 40 percent average disapproval rating.

This +16 net rating is very impressive for a governor who never received a majority of the vote in either of his two successful gubernatorial campaigns.

However, as Pawlenty has become part of the constant chatter of possible vice-presidential running mates to John McCain, his ratings have taken a bit of a hit: Pawlenty’s disapproval numbers have averaged 45 percent this year, and his approval numbers have fallen a bit to 53 percent. His net approval rating has been cut in half to +8.

By another measure, Rasmussen has also measured Pawlenty’s rankings as higher in polls conducted at the end of 2007 (50 percent “excellent? + “good? versus 49 percent “fair? + “poor?) than compared to those conducted in 2008 (46 percent “excellent? + “good? versus 54 percent “fair? + “poor?) – a 9-point net approval drop.

It not at all clear that Minnesotans would rally behind Pawlenty as a VP nominee (Minnesotans have sent enough Vice-Presidents to D.C. that perhaps the novelty has worn off). A February 2008 SurveyUSA poll found just 28 percent of Gopher State residents think Pawlenty would be able to effectively campaign for vice president and serve as governor at the same time; 61 percent thought he would not.

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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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