- The Washington Times - Friday, July 19, 2019

Fifteen of the nation’s most popular governors are Republicans, continuing to dominate the approval ratings despite a legislative session that saw some come under fire for signing bills restricting abortion, according to a newly released analysis.

The Morning Consult ranking for the second quarter of 2019 found once again that voters are particularly fond of moderate East Coast Republicans. Leading the list were Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, Larry Hogan of Maryland, Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, and Phil Scott of Vermont.

After the moderates came a host of conservatives: North Dakota’s Doug Burgum, Wyoming’s Mark Gordon, Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, Greg Abbott of Texas, Bill Lee of Tennessee, and Ron DeSantis of Florida.

The quarterly Governors Approval Rankings released Wednesday found that the sweeping pro-life bills signed during the 2019 legislative session had little lasting impact on gubernatorial popularity, with one exception: Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey.

Ms. Ivey, who signed in June a near-total ban on abortion in what was billed as a challenge to the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, dropped 10 slots on the list from the first quarter of 2019.

“Several governors passed bills restricting abortion access during the second quarter of the year, and the political damage was limited for all of them, except Kay Ivey,” said the Morning Consult analysis. “The state’s former No. 2, who is serving her first full term as the leader of the state, saw her net approval decline by 17 percentage points as she signed a bill banning abortion even in circumstances of incest and rape.”

Fortunately for Ms. Ivey, she had plenty of cushion. Her approval rating went from 63% to 57%, still good for 12th place in the rankings.



Many red-state governors signed abortion restrictions this year as GOP legislatures sought to take advantage of the addition of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh to the high court, but the Alabama and Georgia bills drew the lion’s share of media attention.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who signed a fetal-heartbeat bill banning most abortions as early as six weeks’ gestation, landed in the middle of the pack at 22nd with 52% approval, 29% disapproval, and 20% saying they “don’t know.”

Both his approval and disapproval rankings were up somewhat from the first quarter, when he notched a 48% approval and 23% disapproval. Mr. Kemp, elected in November, ranked 22nd on the list with a net loss of approval of 3 percentage points.

In Missouri, Gov. Mike Parson also saw both numbers rise, with his approval going from 44% to 47% and his disapproval rising from 18% to 23%, for 33rd in the rankings. 

In Alabama, Georgia and Missouri, the Morning Consult analysis found that “the share of voters who disapproved of them rose and the share who approved fell—though it ultimately stabilized for Parson and Kemp.”

Most if not all of the pro-life bills have been challenged in court, setting up legal battles that are expected to last for years.

There are currently 23 Democratic and 27 Republicans governors, and the GOP state leaders have for years topped the Morning Consult approval list. The last Democrat to crack the top 10 was Hawaii Gov. David Ige, who ranked 10th in January. He has since fallen to 30th.

Similarly, signing ambitious pro-choice legislation had little impact on the rankings of Democratic governors. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who signed a late-term bill in January, saw his approval drop from 49% to 47% and his disapproval rise from 40% to 41% from the first quarter.

Another Democrat, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, registered a slight uptick on both counts, rising from 40% to 44% approval, and from 29% to 35% disapproval, after signing in June a bill easing restrictions on late-term abortions, including a repeal of the state’s partial-birth abortion ban.

Mr. Cuomo ranked 36th and Mr. Pritzker came in at 41st on the list.

Mr. Scott, a pro-choice Republican who signed in June a bill codifying Vermont’s no-limits status quo on abortion, continued to enjoy high popularity, ranking fourth on the list with a 60% approval rating, up slightly from 59% in the first quarter.

Bringing up the rear were Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, a Democrat, who ranked last, and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican, who was 49th, both of whom notched a 32% approval rating.

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