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Minnesotans Still Divided Over Pawlenty; Culver and Doyle Ratings in 30s

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While residents of Iowa and Wisconsin are speaking in loud, disapproving voices over the performance of their respective Democratic governors, Minnesotans are still basically split down the middle over how they rate the performance of Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty.

The latest SurveyUSA poll of 600 Minnesota residents, conducted August 26-27, finds 48 percent approving of Pawlenty's job performance, with 50 percent disapproving. The Governor's job approval rating has see-sawed up and down between a low of 46 percent (April) and a high of 53 percent (January, July) throughout the first eight months of this year.

Although Pawlenty's current SurveyUSA approval rating is down from his August marks from 2008 (51 percent), 2007, (59 percent), and 2006 (56 percent), his numbers have not fallen appreciably compared to those of his Upper Midwestern colleagues - each of whom have faced historic economic challenges in their respective states.

For example, Iowa Governor Chet Culver, like Pawlenty, enjoyed a 59 percent approval rating in August 2007, his first year in office. That number has fallen to just 36 percent in August 2009 - a 39.0 percent drop in two years.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, who recently announced he would not seek a third term, has seen his job performance numbers drop from 46 percent in August 2008 to 33 percent last month.

In one year, Culver's numbers have fallen 32.1 percent, Doyle's have decreased 28.3 percent, while Pawlenty's have dipped just 5.9 percent.

Pawlenty has been able to maintain these numbers despite facing a legislature controlled by the opposition party. Both Culver and Doyle (since 2009) govern over states with both legislative chambers under Democratic control. In fact, Minnesota has by far the most Democratic-dominated legislature in the 12-state Midwest region.

Thus, while Minnesota's Republican Governor has no doubt alienated many Democrats in his high profile budget battles with the DFL leadership in St. Paul, Pawlenty has perhaps emerged (unlike Culver and Doyle) as a stronger leader for having engaged in that battle. As a result, Pawlenty still gets fair marks from independents in the Gopher State (45 percent approving), while that group has all but shut down its support for Doyle (23 percent) and Culver (27 percent).

Change in Upper Midwestern Gubernatorial Approval Ratings, August 2008-August 2009

State
Governor
Aug. '08
Aug. '09
% Change
MN
Tim Pawlenty
51
48
-5.9
WI
Jim Doyle
46
33
-28.3
IA
Chet Culver
53
36
-32.1
Note: SurveyUSA data compiled by Smart Politics.

Pawlenty's numbers also still stack up fairly well against many of his colleagues from across the country. Pawlenty is one of only five governors in the 13 states tracked by SurveyUSA who has not experienced a double-digit percentage decrease in approval rating since January of this year (-9.4 percent). (The Minnesota Governor also has the fifth highest approval rating in this group).

Only New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (+17.0 percent), Alabama Governor Bob Riley (+1.7 percent), Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear (-2.1 percent), and Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski (-4.8 percent) have fared better since January.

Interestingly, Pawlenty is the only governor of these 13 states who has presided over a single-digit increase in unemployment this year - at just +8.0 percent from January to July.

For example, New Mexico has endured a +37.3 percent increase in unemployment since January, with Iowa at +35.4 percent, Alabama at +30.8 percent, Wisconsin at +28.6 percent, Kansas at +27.6 percent, Kentucky at +25.0 percent, and Oregon at +21.4 percent.

As documented last month, Minnesota has had one of the lowest increases in the rate of unemployment across the nation this year.

Change in Gubernatorial Approval Rating Since January 2009

State
Governor
Jan
Aug
% Change
NM
Bill Richardson
47
55
+17.0
AL
Bob Riley
60
61
+1.7
KY
Steve Beshear
48
47
-2.1
OR
Ted Kulongoski
42
40
-4.8
MN
Tim Pawlenty
53
48
-9.4
VA
Tim Kaine
53
45
-15.1
WA
Christine Gregoire
42
35
-16.7
MO
Jay Nixon
63
50
-20.6
IA
Chet Culver
50
36
-28.0
WI
Jim Doyle
48
33
-31.3
CA
Arnold Schwarzenegger
28
19
-32.1
NY
David Paterson
54
24
-55.6
KS
Mark Parkinson
N/A
49
N/A
 
Average
45.2
41.7
-15.5
Note: SurveyUSA data compiled by Smart Politics.

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Previous post: Klobuchar's Approval Rebounds While Senators Grassley, Harkin, Kohl, and Feingold's Sink to Historic Lows
Next post: In Search of Minnesota's Bellwether House District(s)

3 Comments


  • Whether one agrees or does not agree with Governor Pawlenty and his policies and or the results said policies it is a moot point. What I am curious about is to which way the electorate will vote in the next gubernatorial election.

    It would fair to say that the election of a republican would reaffirm the policies and direction that Governor Pawlenty has pointed the state. Then again the election of a democrat would be a vote for a change of direction from the policies of Governor Pawlenty.

    This past week former Governor Carlson was speaking about his observations of the Pawlenty administration over the past seven years. I must say that I was surprised at how unkind Carlson was about the lack of leadership and about Pawlenty's unwillingness to deal with the budget in a meaningful way.

    Carlson mentioned that even though Governor Pawlenty choose to use unallotment as a tool to balance the budget, Governor Pawlenty deferred 70% of the cuts and left them for the next governor to deal with. In short a real lack of leadership and an inability to make hard choices that would have been very unpopular. It was also pointed out that when Governor Pawlenty came into office there was a projected budget deficit of over 4 billion dollars. When Governor Pawlenty leaves office there will a projected deficit of between 4 and 6 billion dollars. The Governor might have been better off to have followed his campaign slogan that said he would cut the "billions and billions of dollars in wasted state spending". There again is the leadership rub.

    Governor Pawlenty at best has a nice campaign slogan for his run at the presidency. " I did not raise taxes"

  • Quick correction:

    "For example, Iowa Governor Chet Culver, like Pawlenty, enjoyed a 59 percent approval rating in August 2007, his first year in office. That number has fallen to just 36 percent in August 2009 - a 39.0 percent drop in two years."

    59 - 36 is a 29.0 percent drop, not 39 - so at least one of those three numbers must be wrong. Probably just a typo, but wanted you to know.

  • > 59 - 36 is a 29.0 percent drop, not 39 - so at least one of
    > those three numbers must be wrong. Probably just a typo, but
    > wanted you to know.

    Actually, 59 to 36 is a 39 percent drop: (59-36)/59 = 23 / 59 = .39.


  • Leave a comment


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