Five Thirty Eight, the New York Times political blog widely ranked as maybe the most consistently accurate publication that takes the statistical measure of all things political, ranked the 50 governors Monday according to their job approval ratings.
Seven of the 10 top ranked governors were Republicans while only two of the bottom ranked 14 were not Republicans.
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At the top was Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming with a net job approval rating of plus 66, based on the percentage of residents who approve of a governor minus the percentage that disapprove. Behind Mead came Mike Beebe, a Democrat, Governor of Arkansas with a plus 57.
Bringing up the bottom was Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee, an Independent with a minus 43 job approval rating. The penultimate worst job approval rating of minus 19 came from a Democrat, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.
Much talk of who the GOP’s 2016 stars were, such as Scott Walker in Wisconsin, Rick Perry in Texas or Bobby Jindal in Louisiana, may be quelled a bit as two of this trio, Perry and Jindal, have negative approval ratings, minus 3 and minus 12, respectively.
In Ohio, where first-term Republican Governor John R. Kasich has geared up for next year’s reelection campaign and a Democrat has stepped forward to take him on, job approval ratings by Ohioans give him a plus 16, when his disapproval rating of 35 is subtracted from a slim 51 percent.
Monday’s report author Micah Cohen said that a Republican governor’s stellar approval ratings in a solidly Republican state “tells us less about that governor’s political talent than the approval ratings of a governor who represents a competitive state, or a state that typically votes for the opposing political party.”
Based on that assessment, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican who shared the day at Asbury Park with President Obama, is a standout player. Cohen reminds readers that a Democrat has carried New Jersey in every presidential election since 1992. Notwithstanding this fact, Cohen notes that Gov. Christie has maintained a net job approval above 40 percent.
Meanwhile, he writes that some of the most talked-about GOP contenders for 2016 have mediocre approval ratings.
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Only 41 percent of South Carolina residents, he says, approve of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a Republican; Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican in Democratic-leaning Wisconsin, has managed to maintain a net positive job approval rating, but just barely.
Then there is Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who Cohen says was once a top 2016 prospect for Republicans, but who has “seen the bottom fall out of his approval ratings amid state battles over taxes and budgets.” Fifty-four percent of Louisianans now disapprove of Jindal’s job performance.
Nine governors were not ranked because no polling was available, Cohen noted.
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