Here's something particularly remarkable about Mark Sanford's 36/51 approval breakdown in our poll today- those numbers are actually better than average for the nine Governors we've looked at the ratings for since the beginning of September. He's less popular than Jay Nixon, Jack Markell, and Tim Kaine but more so than John Baldacci, Jan Brewer, Jim Doyle, Bev Perdue, and Jon Corzine.
I'd been planning to write a blog post for several weeks about the least popular Governors in the country but was waiting to do the South Carolina poll because I assumed Sanford would be on the list...but he's not!
Based on our approval ratings and those of other pollsters I believe these (in alphabetical order) to be the eight least popular Governors in the country:
-John Baldacci (D) of Maine (25/57 approval spread when we looked at it in October)
-Jan Brewer (R) of Arizona (26/43 when we polled at in September)
-Jim Doyle (D) of Wisconsin (29/57 in our November poll, 32/58 on Pollster trend)
-Jim Gibbons (R) of Nevada (Pollster trend is 31/66)
-David Paterson (D) of New York (Pollster trend is 25/71)
-Bev Perdue (D) of North Carolina (30% on our last poll after months in the 20s, Pollster trend is 33/50)
-Ed Rendell (D) of Pennsylvania (Pollster trend is 33/65)
-Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) of California (Pollster trend is 27/69)
There may be other Governors who are similarly unpopular whose states don't get polled as much, have to work with the information that's out there.
My takeaway is that the biggest popularity killer for Governors right now is having to deal with tough budgetary decisions. The only person on this list due to personal issues is Gibbons. The rest have suffered from some combination of these money related problems:
-Having to raise taxes in a recession to balance the budget
-Bickering with their legislatures about how to balance the budget
-Looking weak and indecisive when it comes to providing leadership on balancing the budget.
Not an easy time to be a Governor.
Brewer, Gibbons, and Paterson are the only ones up for reelection next year and all seem likely at this point to lose their party's primaries.