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Pawlenty Unallotment Strategy, Decision Not to Run in 2010 Have Little Impact on Approval Ratings

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Just as Tim Pawlenty's announcement that he would use an unallotment strategy to resolve the state's budget crisis had little impact on his approval ratings in late May, his decision to not seek a third term as Minnesota's Governor also seems to have had little impact on his approval ratings in June.

The latest round of monthly SurveyUSA polling finds Pawlenty's approval rating in mid-June at 47 percent - down from 49 percent in May.

Pawlenty had seen his disapproval numbers increase in five consecutive months, rising from 38 to 50 percent from November 2008 through April 2009, until SurveyUSA's numbers in May came in at 49 percent approving and 48 percent disapproving in a poll of 600 adults statewide (MoE +/- 4.1). Pawlenty's disapproval rating was back up to 50 percent in June.

Overall, however, there has been remarkably little fluctuation in Pawlenty's job ratings considering the headlines he has caused during the past 30 days.

First, a little more than a month ago, Pawlenty pulled the rug out from under the DFL leadership when he announced he would balance the budget by signing their spending bills, veto their tax increase legislation, and then unallot spending on targeted programs. Pawlenty saw a only a slight boost in his approval rating from April to May - from 46 to 49 percent.

Then, in early June, Pawlenty announced he would not be seeking a third term. This again saw little impact on his approval rating - falling a statistically insignificant two points to 47 percent.

Pawlenty Job Performance Rating, April - June 2009

Month
Approve
Disapprove
No opinion
April 2009
46
50
4
May 2009
49
48
3
June 2009
47
50
3
Source: SurveyUSA polling data of 600 adults statewide.

Another trend that has remained consistent is how Minnesotans are currently much more content with the job performance of their Republican governor than Iowans and Wisconsinites are of their Democratic governors.

In Wisconsin, 2-term Democratic Governor Jim Doyle has seen his approval ratings languish in the low to mid 30s during the past four months - the worst period in his 6+ years in office.

In Iowa, 1-term Democratic Governor Chet Culver has also endured lower job performance ratings than Pawlenty in every month this year, with his current approval rating resting at just 42 percent.

Upper Midwestern Gubernatorial Approval Ratings, 2009

Month
Doyle (WI)
Culver (IA)
Pawlenty (MN)
January 2009
48
50
53
February 2009
40
46
48
March 2009
32
46
51
April 2009
35
42
46
May 2009
33
48
49
June 2009
33
42
47
Note: SurveyUSA polling data conducted of 600 adults in each state.

All three governors have faced significant economic challenges in their respective states. Since December 2008:

· Wisconsin has seen its seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increase 50.8 percent from 5.9 to 8.9 percent
· Iowa has seen its jobless rate increase 31.8 percent from 4.4 to 5.8 percent
· Minnesota's unemployment rate has risen 39.4 percent from 6.6 to 8.2 percent.

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1 Comment


  • Tim Pawlenty's approval ratings, even if we give him a bit of extra credit for being a Republican in a blue state, have been nothing remarkable. He's no Charlie Crist or Jon Huntsman Jr., someone whose popularity at home clearly points toward some kind of special political acumen. True, almost any "opposite-color" governor of a reasonably large state is someone who is going to get at least a passing thought from his party. But there's no particularly good reason why, say, Tim Pawlenty is considered a serious presidential candidate and someone like Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell isn't.

    Firstly, Pawlenty performed relatively well with young voters. Although he lost the 18-29s, he didn't lose them badly, and he won Gen X'ers by a solid margin. This may have more to do, however, with the peculiar politics of Minnesota rather than anything in particular that Palwenty was doing. While Minnesota is blue now, it was very blue before, once sometimes thought of as the most reliably Democratic state in the nation. What this implies is that the old folks in Minnesota might be at least as liberal as their younger counterparts.

    It's going to take a lot of ingenuity for Pawlenty to win the Republican nomination -- he starts out with much lower name recognition, and a much weaker brand, than most of his rivals. But that is, I suppose, why he's decided to take two years off to get ready for the race.


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