Nation’s most unpopular governors: Malloy, Christie, Brownback

During Dannel Malloy’s first term, when he was popular enough to run for and win a second and his neighboring governors to the south, Chris Christie of New Jersey and Andrew Cuomo of New York, were also riding high, this column jokingly referred to him as “the Tri-state area’s third most popular governor.”

Well, he’s moved up. Connecticut’s governor is now the second most popular governor in the Tri-state area, but that’s the only good news in a nationwide poll of 195,000 registered voters measuring the popularity or lack thereof of the 50 governors.

The poll by Morning Consult, the non-partisan digital media and survey research company, has Christie tied with Sam Brownback of Kansas as the most unpopular governors in these United States. Both were able to get no better than the approval of 25 percent of their respective state’s voters. In the realm of disapproval ratings, Christie hits bottom alone, with 69 percent of his citizens disapproving of him while a mere 66 percent of Kansans don’t care at all for their governor. 

Brownback is the former ultra-conservative senator who saw his state go into a tailspin after he drastically cut taxes for the rich, saw a huge reduction in taxes collected and a downgrading of the state’s credit. Nevertheless, he won re-election, despite the efforts of dozens of prominent Republicans who endorsed his opponent.

Down at the bottom with the two Republicans in the just released survey is our own Dannel Malloy with 29 percent approving of his governorship and 64 percent disapproving. This gives Malloy the added distinction of being the most unpopular Democratic governor in the nation.

Cuomo, without the headline-grabbing problems of the other Tri-staters, tied with Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas at a 60 percent approval rating but his higher disapproval number, 30 percent to Hutchinson’s 23, kept him just out of the top 10 most popular governors. This still made Cuomo the most popular Democratic governor in the nation, as the 10 most popular were all Republicans, most of them of the fiscally conservative persuasion. 

It is interesting to note that the popular Cuomo’s legislature passed a New York state budget in April, while Connecticut is aiming, rather gingerly, for a budget vote later this month, and Christie’s state budget deal was made in early July. 

But for Christie, it came too late — right after that July 4 photo of him sunning his ample self at a Jersey beach closed to the less privileged public by the lack of a budget. A budget was passed quickly after the photo appeared, but Christie’s earlier issues, like the vengeful closing a the Washington Bridge and his absences from New Jersey to seek the presidency have done him in. Last week, he was booed at a Mets game when he caught a foul ball.

The governor of our neighbor to the north, Charlie Baker, a Republican in the William Weld/Mitt Romney Massachusetts mold, is the nation’s most loved governor, in the opinion of the state’s voters, with an approval rating of 71 percent and the disapproval of only 17 percent. Another moderate, anti-Trumper, Maryland’s Larry Hogan, was second, at 68 percent.

Two other New England Republicans, Chris Sununu in New Hampshire and Vermont’s Phil Scott, did well, with ratings of 62 and 57 percent. 

Maine’s controversial and loudmouthed governor, Paul LePage, who has managed to offend many groups without regard for race, creed, color or sexual preference, still managed a 47 percent approval rating while Gina Raimondo, the Rhode Island Democrat, was second lowest in the region at 43 percent, probably because of her success at pension reform for unionized state employees and battles with unionized teachers in Democratic Rhode Island.

The other Republicans in the top 10 along with the aforementioned governors of Massachusetts, Maryland, Vermont and Arkansas were Matt Mead of Wyoming, Doug Burgum of North Dakota, Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota, Kay Evey of Alabama, Brian Sandoval of Nevada, Gary Herbert of Utah and Bill Haslan of Tennessee. 

Also noteworthy were the ratings of some of the nation’s better known governors. John Kasich of Ohio, an independent minded Republican, has a comfortable, 57 percent approval rating; Jerry Brown, governor of a state larger than many nations, is on the plus side at 52 percent and Scott Walker, last year’s hero governor of Wisconsin to many conservatives, is struggling with a 43 percent rating.

And lastly, a question. Is there a future president or two in this crowd? A governor might be a refreshing change.


Simsbury resident Dick Ahles is a retired journalist. Email him at rahles1@outlook.com.