22 August 2006

GOP Govs At Nixonesque Approval Ratings

United States President Richard Nixon spent about ten months with approval ratings under 30% before he resigned with the prospect of impeachment awaiting him. He never fell below the low 20s in approval rating.

A Survey USA poll released today, reveals that three sitting Republican Governors have approval ratings in that territory, and one more is merely in President Bush approval ratings territory. All four states are states that voted for Bush in 2004. One, Murkowski from Alaska, is running again and has a primary today. The other two at the bottom are leaving office when their terms expire in early 2007. The fourth doesn't have an election until 2008.


At the very bottom is Republican Ohio Governor Bob Taft. He has 17% who approve of his performance and 79% who disapprove. He was even convicted of a crime during office and hasn't resigned. Taft's approval ratings have been in the high teens and low twenties, sub-Nixonesque levels, since, at least, May of last year. His low with Survey USA was 14% in February of this year.

According to Wikipedia:

In the wake of convictions for ethics violations (see "Criminal charges", below), Gov. Taft's approval rating bottomed out at 6.5%, according to a late November, 2005 poll by Zogby, giving him quite possibly the lowest polled approval rating ever by a United States politician.[2] A Survey USA poll that same month gave Taft a rating of 18%. . . . A late-2005 article in Time Magazine named him as one of the three worst governors in the country.

Taft is term limited, so the seat is an open seat in which the Democratic Party candidate is currently favored in the polls.


Then comes Republican Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski. Voters in the Republican primary today will decide if he should have another chance to run for Governor. If he wins, the seat will be very competitive for a Democratic candidate, and if he loses, it will be an effectively open seat, which gives a Democratic contender, at least, a realistic chance.

He has 19% who approve and 76% who disapprove. This is a new low for him, although he hasn't had even 35% approval ratings since, at least, May of 2005. He is also deep in Nixon's approval ratings territory. He was elected Governor in 2002, after many years in the U.S. Senate. I'm not familiar with Alaska politics, but according to Wikipedia:

Many residents are angry over a recently purchased jet using a state line of credit with Key Bank, which was legal but did not require legislative approval. Earlier disapproval was related to his elimination of the state longevity bonus paid annually to senior citizen residents of Alaska. However, it was eliminated at a time when the state was facing a budget deficit. Murkowski's use of the jet over cheaper commercial air travel has caused controversy among citizens as well as legislators and the matter of business that he attends to - and the possible use of the jet for personal business[1]. Senator Kim Elton publishes a newsletter detailing each time the jet is used, the cost, and the price of a first class commercial ticket the same day to the same destination.

Governor Murkowski is currently running for re-election. The unpopular governor faces stiff opposition from former Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin and Fairbanks businessman John Binkley. Most polls have indicated that Murkowski will have a difficult time surviving the Republican primary election on August 22, 2006.

His daughter Lisa Murkowski, whom he appointed to the U.S. Senate in 2002, after which she won re-election in 2004, is surely hoping that the stink of her father's scandals will be forgotten when she faces re-election in 2010. She currently has a middling 55% approve, 39% disapprove rating.


Then comes Republican Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher. He has 24% who approve and 73% who disapprove, a new low. He pardoned many of his senior staff members after they were indicted in connection with corruption charges. The only reason he isn't facing charges himself is that a court held that a sitting Governor is immune from prosecution for the duration of his term of offie. He is not running again in 2006, so the race is an open seat.


By comparison, the next worst approval rating, that of Republican Governor of Indiana Mitch Daniels of whom 34% approve and 54% disapprove (in the same ballpark as President Bush), looks positively wonderful, even if it does mark a return to negative net approval ratings. His next election is in 2008.

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