A recent poll conducted by Survey USA shows that Chet Culver’s approval rating has plummeted 10 points in just two months’ time. Culver’s approval rating has gone from 57% in mid-December to just 47% in February.
The numbers deliver some very troubling news to Culver, a first term governor who is up for re-election in 2010. Culver has problems across the ideological and issue spectrum. It is clear that his mishandling of the state budget, flood recovery, and a fumbling legislative agenda is starting to impact the public’s view of him. The public’s reaction is almost uniformly negative.
“Governor Culver gets low marks from men, those who attend religious services regularly, gun owners, and those who earn under $50,000 a year; In other words, a large portion of rural Iowa,” said Bob Haus, a long-time Iowa political operative.
Haus added, “Culver is viewed negatively in all areas of the state, except the northeast region. Almost 60% of those surveyed in northwest Iowa have a negative view of the Governor’s job performance, and almost half (48%) disapprove of his performance in the flood-ravaged southeast region of the state.”
Even more disastrous for Culver is that a full 54% of Iowa’s key independent voting bloc indicate they disapprove of his performance. His highest numbers come from Democrats, self-described moderates and liberals, those who do not attend any religious services or attend only occasionally, and those earning more than $50,000 a year.
When asked what would cause the public to turn on Culver so quickly, Haus said, “In two months, he’s fallen to being ‘upside down’ with the public…more people disapproving of his job performance than approving. He and his administration have proven ineffective at helping Iowans recover from the floods of 2008, managing the state budget, and at building a long-range, consensus-driven agenda.”
While Election Day it is still a long way off, it’s difficult to see how Culver will be able to restore his brand. Culver hasn’t had a positive story in three months. There has been the Rebuild Iowa Office fiasco, sudden changes at the Iowa Veterans Home, the Atalissa abuse case, job cuts, hints of political favors in his proposal to sell the Iowa Lottery, and the failure to pass any of the labor unions’ legislative priorities.
To make matters worse, the Revenue Estimating Conference will release a new report later this month, which is expected to deliver more bad news for Governor Culver. Its findings could force Culver to make additional across-the-board cuts for fiscal year 2009, and worsen the budget gap for fiscal year 2010.
This survey shows that Iowans have been paying attention, and they clearly don’t like what they see. A majority of Iowans think that Governor Culver lacks a plan or the capacity to solve problems. Iowans are indicating they don’t think Governor Culver is up to the challenge.
Survey USA also conducted approval ratings for Sen. Grassley, Sen. Harkin, and President Obama. Grassley received approval from 71% of Iowans, Hark in garnered a 61% approval, and Obama had the approval of 63% of Iowans. All three had favorable ratings from every corner of the state and people of all income levels.
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