Approval ratings for all four Upper Midwest governors rose noticeably in polls conducted by SurveyUSA directly after Election Day (November 8-11). All three incumbent governors on the ballot in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and South Dakota were victorious, and the Democrats retained control of the Iowa executive branch with Chet Culver replacing outgoing governor Tom Vilsack. Two governors received bounces so strong that it launched them to record or near record approval ratings.
In Wisconsin, Democratic governor Jim Doyle saw his job approval rating shoot up 9 points, from 46% to 55%, after languishing below 50% in 17 of 18 polls conducted by SurveyUSA dating back to May 2005. This is the highest level of approval Doyle has received by Wisconsinites in this organization’s one and a half years of polling.
In South Dakota, Republican governor Mike Rounds’s job rating climbed 6 points, from 64% to 70% – reaching the 70% milestone for the first time since February 2006 after he signed the state’s controversial abortion ban into law.
In Minnesota, Republican governor Tim Pawlenty’s rating rose 4 points, from 45% to 49%. (Although this level still marked the fifth lowest rating for newly re-elected governor in the 19 polls conducted by SurveyUSA).
Even departing Iowa Democratic Governor Tom Vilsack saw his approval rating rise 6 points from 52% to 58% — his highest rating since March 2006 and second highest rating since SurveyUSA began monthly polling of gubernatorial ratings in May 2005.