Pawlenty Still Shedding Support for Presidential Candidacy in Home State
Statewide support for ‘President Pawlenty’ in Minnesota reaches all-time low of 35 percent while his gubernatorial approval rating remains solid
A new Rasmussen poll of 500 likely voters in Minnesota delivers good news and bad news to outgoing Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty.
On the plus side, Pawlenty emerged from another bloody legislative session, a state Supreme Court decision that overturned his controversial 2009 unallotment, criticism by political opponents and the media for his frequent out-of-state trips, and a looming budget deficit of several billion dollars in the next biennium with good approval ratings.
With 52 percent of Minnesotans believing Pawlenty is doing an ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ job, Pawlenty has sustained a 50+ percent approval rating for each of the three Rasmussen polls conducted this year (coming in at 50 percent in March and 53 percent in April).
In fact, the Governor’s Rasmussen approval ratings across 2009 and the first half of 2010 have been consistently higher than in 2008 – with his ‘excellent’ and ‘good’ marks averaging 52.8 percent over the last year and a half, compared to just 47.3 percent in 2008.
However, with nearly a year gone by since Pawlenty’s announcement that he would not seek a third term in office, Gopher State residents still have not warmed up to the idea of their governor running for president.
The new Rasmussen poll finds that only 35 percent of Minnesotans would vote for Pawlenty if he won the Republican nomination for president – the lowest level across the four polls Rasmussen has conducted on this issue since last fall.
Back in November 2009, 42 percent of Gopher State residents stated they would vote for Pawlenty under such a scenario. That number dropped to 37 and 38 percent in January and March respectively, and then to 35 percent in May.
Forty-nine percent of Minnesotans said they would not vote for him.
The faltering support for a Pawlenty presidential campaign in his home state is curious in light of the governor’s reasonable approval ratings and the fact that Republican party identification is currently at a five-year high in Minnesota, with Republicans outnumbering Democrats for the first time since October of 2005.
This lack of enthusiasm for a potential presidential run should raise at least a yellow flag for Pawlenty, as history has demonstrated that carrying a home state is a necessary condition, though obviously not a sufficient condition, to winning the presidency.
A Smart Politics analysis of the 56 presidential elections since 1789 found that all but two presidents carried their home state en route to victory.
The only two elected presidents who did not win their home states were James Polk (1844, Tennessee) and Woodrow Wilson (1916, New Jersey).
Perhaps Pawlenty is counting on a stronger base of support for his presidential campaign somewhere south of the border – such as in Iowa.
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The governor is a political opportunist of the highest order.