Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Perdue in negative territory

For the first time since taking office Bev Perdue's approval rating has dropped into negative territory, with 51% of voters disapproving of her job performance compared to just 34% who give her good marks.

The Governor's declining numbers are largely a function of decreasing support for her work from her party base. In March 66% of Democrats approved of her. That dropped to 61% in April and now down to 50%. She is also struggling a lot with independents. They were almost evenly divided on her two months ago but now 60% disapprove and just 26% approve.

It's a safe bet that Perdue's recent announcement of a pay cut to teachers and state employees has a lot to do with this decline. 53% of voters say they opposed this move with only 36% in support. Both of those groups gave Perdue strong support during her campaign for the office last year but only 29% of teachers and 36% of other state employees now say that they approve of her job performance.

Clearly the bad economy is primarily responsible for Perdue's numbers, but what's interesting is that in some sense Perdue is a victim of her own openness. She could have announced the furloughs two weeks ago in a faceless press release, but instead she had a press conference that put her front and center on the 6 o'clock news as the face of the pay cuts.

She has not hesitated to put herself in the spotlight as the deliverer of bad news- in some sense that is admirable for a politician but for now at least it is having quite a negative impact on her popularity with the public. If things do get turned around she's positioned herself- by taking the hit when things are bad- to take the credit when things are good. But that's certainly a political gamble and it'll be interesting to see how it pans out.

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