- The Washington Times - Monday, March 27, 2006

President Bush and the Republican Congress are not the only ones getting poor job-approval grades from voters. A large number of governors and state legislatures in both parties are receiving low scores, too.

While the Washington press corps has focused on Mr. Bush’s declining approval rating, down to 36 percent in the latest Gallup poll, and on Congress, whose approval rating has sunk to 27 percent, state and local government officials are not faring much better.

Independent pollsters say the national electorate is in a sour mood and is critical of the political establishment across the board, regardless of party.

“It’s a hard time to be in government right now,” said pollster John Zogby. “You are going into November with an unusually sizable number of weakened incumbents. It looks like you have two political parties this year that are … bent on losing.”

Pollsters who have been taking the pulse of several states say voters are especially critical of their officials close to home, and many of the lowest scores are among Democratic governors.

“A perfect example is Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire of Washington, whose disapproval level is at 54 percent, with only 38 percent approving of the job she is doing” said pollster David E. Johnson of Strategic Vision, an Atlanta-based polling firm.

“We did a poll of their state Legislature, which is controlled by Democrats. Their approval rating is in the 40s,” Mr. Johnson said.

Governors and legislatures elsewhere are getting similarly low marks, he said. Among his findings:

• In Wisconsin, the job-approval score for Gov. James E. Doyle, a Democrat, has fallen to 41 percent and his disapproval rate has risen to 48 percent. The Republican-controlled Legislature’s polls are equally low: 44 percent approve and 47 percent disapprove. “None of their incumbents are polling above 50 percent in either party,” Mr. Johnson said.

• In Michigan, where the jobless rate is at 6.2 percent, Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, a Democrat, has seen her support edge up slightly from 47 percent to 49 percent, but still draws a 39 percent disapproval rating. Voters disapprove of the GOP-controlled Legislature by 51 percent to 40 percent.

• In New Jersey, Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat elected last year, has not been able to poll over 50 percent in Strategic Visions’ past two polls. The latest poll showed his approval rating at 47 percent and disapproval rating at 30 percent, “and that’s really not that great for a governor who has just come into office,” Mr. Johnson said.

New Jersey’s Democrat-controlled Legislature draws even less support: 59 disapprove and 31 percent approve.

Republican governors also have lost public support. Ohio Gov. Bob Taft, whose administration has been hit by scandal, has seen his approval rating plummet into the low 20s. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s once-high approval rating has fallen into the mid-40s, with 47 percent of the voters saying they now would vote against him. Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s job-approval rating has dipped to 46 percent.

“It’s not an easy time to be governor. Medicaid is in crisis, and they face the deadly duo: higher taxes and reduced state spending,” Mr. Zogby said.

Political strategists say the governors’ troubles run deeper than that, revealing a national loss of faith in politicians, in general, and government, in particular.

“It’s clearly not just a Washington problem. People do not connect with what’s going on in politics to their everyday lives,” said Morris L. Reid, a Democratic political consultant.

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