A few days ago, Smart Politics went into great detail to explain why the latest Star Tribune poll results did not provide persuasive evidence that Governor Tim Pawlenty was flirting with danger in terms of his statewide approval rating. That poll found Pawlenty with a +12 net approval rating – about on par with his standing during most of his 6+ years in office.

A new SurveyUSA poll, however, does provide some sobering news for the Governor.

For the fifth consecutive month, Pawlenty’s disapproval rating has increased in SurveyUSA polling, rising from 38 percent in November 2008 to 50 percent in April 2009 – a 31.6 percent increase during this span. In between, the number of Gopher State residents disapproving of the Governor’s job performance was 39 percent in December, 41 percent in January, 44 percent in February, and 46 percent in March.

Twenty-seven percent of respondents identified themselves as Republicans in the SurveyUSA poll, unlike the Star Tribune poll, which measured the number of Republicans at 19 percent – a decade low for the GOP in Minnesota. The SurveyUSA poll was conducted of 600 adults from April 24-26, and has a margin of error +/- 4.1 percentage points.

SurveyUSA’s April numbers measure Pawlenty’s approval rating at 46 percent – the lowest mark he has registered in 28 SurveyUSA polls dating back to October 2006 when just 45 percent of Minnesotans approved of the job Pawlenty was doing as Governor. Pawlenty’s net minus 4 approval rating is the fifth worst during his tenure as Governor out of nearly 70 public polls.

While it is difficult to measure precisely where Pawlenty is losing support statewide, due to the high margin of error for examining subgroups, it appears the Governor has seen his disapproval marks rise approximately 5 points among Republicans, 10 points among independents, and about a dozen points among Democrats.

Governor Pawlenty Disapproval Rating by Party ID in SurveyUSA Polling, November 2008-April 2009

Month
Rep
Dem
Ind
Total
Nov-08
10
61
37
38
Dec-08
8
69
36
39
Jan-09
19
57
37
41
Feb-09
15
68
46
44
Mar-09
16
64
51
46
Apr-09
16
75
46
50

The cautionary tale is thus to not put too much emphasis in any particular poll, but to look at the trendline, historical context (unemployment has increased 34 percent during this span), as well as similar polling data for other governors across the country.

Regarding the latter, Pawlenty still looks in pretty good shape when sized up against his colleagues in the 14 states polled by SurveyUSA in April, in which only two governors had an approval rating above the 50 percent mark. Pawlenty was tied with the 5th highest approval rating this month – behind newly elected Democratic Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (56 percent), Republican Alabama Governor Bob Riley (54 percent), Democratic Virginia Governor Tim Kaine (50 percent), and Democratic Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear (47 percent).

Pawlenty’s approval rating has notably dropped from 58 to 46 percent since November, though this 21 percent decline is about on par with the average decline experienced by governors across the states tracked by SurveyUSA (19 percent). In fact, approval ratings have dropped for all but one Governor (Kentucky’s Beshear) during this span, and by a double-digit rates for nine of them.

Governor Pawlenty still boasts a higher approval rating than his neighboring Democratic colleagues Chet Culver of Iowa (42 percent) and Jim Doyle of Wisconsin (35 percent).

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1 Comment

  1. Being Goode on May 4, 2009 at 7:04 am

    I have met the Governor and find him to be a very personable individual. I think that that his “problem” might stem from the not so honest budget that he proposes.

    The shifts and the spending of one time monies, as well as the proposed cutting of corporate taxes without paying for it. These proposals will increase future deficits without dealing will the current problem of the “structural imbalance”.

    Clearly the position the governor holds is just a way to paper over the problem. It would appear that his solution would be to hope for better days ahead.

    Whether or not he will be around for those “better days” remains to be seen.