“Most elections are not policy mandates because most voters are not policy voters,” Mr. Jewett said. “They’re looking at other things, they’re looking at party, they’re looking at the nature of the times, the health of the economy, and, particularly in this past election — even though it was a governor’s race — it was widely perceived as a referendum on Barack Obama.”
First-year Pennsylvania GOP Gov. Tom Corbett would lose a do-over election by 5 percentage points to Democrat Dan Onorato — a 14-point swing compared with their November contest — according to results of a Public Policy Polling survey released last week.
Much of the public ire is fueled by Mr. Corbett’s proposed education-related budget cuts, including a 50 percent reduction in support for universities.
“Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin all had extremely unpopular Democratic governors a year ago at this time — now they all have extremely unpopular Republican governors,” said Public Policy Polling President Dean Debnam. “Working as the chief executive of a large Midwestern state might be one of the toughest jobs in the country right now.”
Political analysts say there’s plenty of time for the governors to reverse their slumping poll numbers before they face re-election in 2014. But if their unpopularity lingers into the 2012 presidential season, it would cause problems for the Republican Party’s White House nominee, particularly in battleground states such as Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin.
“Governors play a critical role organizing the party and the machinery to get out extra voters” in a presidential election year, Mr. Zogby said. “It’s troublesome [for a Republican nominee] to go into state where the governor is unpopular.”