As Bev Perdue's first year in office comes to a close there's really nothing positive that can be gleaned from her poll numbers.
Her approval rating is mired in the 20s, as it has been for most of the second half of 2009, and voters in the state don't think she's been improving her performance or that it will get any better in 2010.
Perdue's approval comes in at 27% this month, with 53% of voters disapproving of her. After her numbers plummeted between February and May they've remained very consistent, with her approval coming in between 24 and 30% every month since June and her disapproval registering between 49 and 55% each of those months.
A PPP analysis of approval polls on Governors last week found that Perdue is one of the eight least popular in the country. Her two fellow newly elected Democratic Governors, Jay Nixon of Missouri and Jack Markell of Delaware, found far superior approval ratings of 42/25 and 40/31 in recent PPP surveys.
Perdue's approval woes were spawned from the legislative session and difficult business of balancing the budget and there had been some speculation that her numbers would approve once that was in the rear view mirror. But only 18% of voters in the state think that Perdue's performance has improved since the legislators went home.
There's likewise little optimism from the state's voters that Perdue will learn from the mistakes of year 1 and do a better job in the second year of her term. Just 32% of voters express the sentiment that Perdue will do a better job in 2010 than she has in 2009 with 44% saying they think she will not and 24% unsure.
Perdue's fumbles in the middle of the year turned North Carolina voters against her, and nothing she's done since has changed their minds. It's pretty clear at this point that piecemeal, incremental changes in the Governor's way of doing business are not going to win the voters back to her. Something needs to change dramatically if she's going to get public opinion about her turned around, and while the exact nature of that is beyond my pay grade her team should be looking for it.
And regardless of how much Perdue might shrug off her poll numbers they do matter. Out of her fellow seven Governors in the 'least popular' club four are not seeking reelection next year and three are currently favored to lose their party's primaries if they do vie for another term. Perdue will likely be facing a choice between those two scenarios a year and a half from now if things have not gotten back on the right track. More immediately a Governor with an approval rating in the 20s doesn't have much political capital to get legislators who have to run for reelection in 2010 to do much of anything she wants if it's risky/controversial during the short session. Vulnerable incumbents are going to jump off her ship before it sinks them too.
It will be interesting to see if anything changes or if Perdue keeps slogging along.
Full results here