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Archive for the ‘John Kasich’ Category

The Quinnipiac University Poll has recently found that while Republican governors have been experiencing big gender gaps in their job approval ratings, Democratic governors and President Obama are seeing relatively small gender gaps. Why?

Public opinion polls have long shown that men are more likely than women to approve of the job Republican office holders are doing and conversely women are more likely than men to like the job Democrats do in office. Typically, the gap between the percentage of men and women approving of an elected official is relatively small (in single digits), and can usually be explained away by differences in party identification. Women are much more likely than men to consider themselves Democrats. For example, in Quinnipiac’s July national poll, 41 percent of women considered themselves Democrats compared to only 28 percent of men. Consequently, women are more supportive than men of Democratic officeholders.

While President Obama has a 7 point gender gap, with 50 percent of women approving of his job performance compared to 43 percent of men, this gap almost vanishes when we factor in party identification. For example, there is almost no difference between Democratic women and Democratic men – they both universally approve of the President. Similarly, there isn’t much of a difference between Republican men and Republican women – almost all of them disapprove of the President. There was a small, statistically insignificant difference in President Obama’s approval rating among Independent men and Independent women.

Like President Obama, the two Democratic governors that Quinnipiac regularly polls on – New York’s Andrew Cuomo and Connecticut’s Dannel Malloy also have small gender gaps. Malloy’s job approval gender gap is just 2 points, with 37 percent of men approving and 39 percent of women approving. Cuomo’s gender gap is also small; it’s just 5 points and actually goes in the opposite direction than what we would expect given historical patterns. Women are slightly less supportive of Cuomo, although both men (67 percent) and women (62 percent) overwhelmingly approve of the job he is doing.

Unlike the Democratic officeholders, all of the Republican governors have double digit gender gaps that can’t be explained simply by differences in party identification. The gender gap for Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is 18 points (48 percent of men approve vs. 30 percent of women); for New Jersey governor Chris Christie it is 17 points (53 percent of men approve vs. 36 percent of women); for Florida governor Rick Scott it is 11 points (35 percent of men approve vs. 24 percent of women); for Ohio governor John Kasich the gender gap is 11 points (44 percent of men approve vs. 33 percent of women); and for Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell it is 11 points (61 percent of men approve vs. 50 percent of women).

One thing that all these Republicans have in common is their approach to budget deficits. They all have relied on spending cuts, rather than tax increases. Just as there is a big gender gap for their overall job approval ratings, there is also a big gender gap for the way they’ve handled their budgets. Women are much less likely than men to approve of the way these governors are handling their state’s budgets.

These Republican governors have either tepid or low overall job approval ratings, except for Governor McDonnell who is at 55 percent. They need to do better among women to lift their overall scores.

All of these governors have plenty of time to improve their standing among women. They aren’t up for reelection until 2013 or 2014. However, one might wonder whether there will be any spillover effect in the 2012 elections. Will women, upset over the budget cuts proposed by Republican governors, show up in unusually large numbers or vote in unusually large numbers for Democrats? Democrats are certainly hoping that will be the case.

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With a sky high 64 percent approval rating, Andrew Cuomo is the most popular governor in the New York tri-state region.   He is also much more popular than several other new big state governors  (see table below). Why is Cuomo enjoying a political honeymoon with the voters, while other governors are sagging in the polls?
 
The calendar favored Cuomo, whose fiscal year began April 1. Everyone else is still working on a budget starting July 1.    All of the normal tensions accompanying the budget process are affecting all the other governors Quinnipiac polls and Cuomo’s done.  Besides, he did a good job of deflecting criticism on the two big items – Medicaid and school aid.  

Cuomo managed to get a budget done without really alienating anyone.  Cuomo didn’t raise taxes,  which would have angered Republicans.    He also didn’t pick a fight with public employee unions,   which would have upset Democrats.
 
Cuomo also benefited from his big 30 point election win.  This meant that Cuomo had a real mandate from the voters.  His landslide victory gave him the political clout to strike fear in those state legislators who might have attacked Cuomo’s budget. 
 
Although Cuomo may have preferred to have the state legislature controlled by the Democrats, having divided government may be a blessing in disguise for Cuomo.  With the Republicans controlling the State Senate, Cuomo knew that it would be very difficult to get a tax increase passed in the state legislature, even if he had wanted one.
 
Connecticut’s Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy didn’t have such luck.  Democrats control the state legislature in Connecticut.  He has put forward a very unpopular tax increase to help balance the state budget, which has resulted in his low job approval rating.  Unlike Cuomo,  Malloy did not start out with much of a cushion in terms of voter support.   Malloy won his race by the narrowest of margins, less than a percentage point.  He has lost the support of many of the people who voted for him, with only 35 percent approving of the job he is doing. 
 
New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christie’s popularity is higher than Malloy’s but lower than Cuomo’s.   Christie’s approval rating is at a decent level, just above 50 percent.   Like New York State,  New Jersey has divided government , as the Democrats control the state legislature.  This may be one of the reasons why Christie hasn’t tried to limit collective bargaining rights for public employees, which is something legislative Democrats would not support.  Had he gone after collective bargaining for public employees, like Governor Kasich in Ohio, perhaps his polling numbers would also have dropped dramatically.

It is ironic that Andrew Cuomo, who could have afforded to take the biggest political risks because of his huge election victory, chose the safest political course, while governors Kasich, Malloy, and Scott, who just barely squeaked out victories and had less room for error have taken bigger risks.   We are now witnessing “voter remorse” in Ohio, Connecticut and Florida as these governors who won their races with only 49 percent of the vote, now have early approval ratings of 35 percent or less.   Malloy is a Democrat, while Kasich and Scott are Republicans but what they have in common are legislatures controlled by their party.  Could this have led these governors to perhaps “overreach” by putting forth proposals popular to their base but not attracting voters from the other party?  If there was divided government in these states, perhaps these governors might have tried harder to reach across party lines.  Such bipartisanship might have given a boost to their political standing.

Most recent approval ratings for Governors in Quinnipiac University Polls

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