Monday, November 26, 2007

how bad are Governor Daniel's poll numbers?

From Mary Beth Schneider of the Indy Star as reprinted as the top front-page article in the Indiana version of Monday's C-J...

I don't know how the Indy Star titled it, but the editor at the C-J chose "Half disapprove of Daniels, poll says"...

Half of Hoosiers likely to vote in next year's election disapprove of Gov. Mitch Daniels' performance, and the two Democrats vying for Daniels' job have at least as much voter support as he does, according to a new Indianapolis Star-WTHR poll...

Certainly not good news for Daniels, but there's some interesting info in taking a closer look at his historical approval rates:

Daniels was elected in 2004, winning 53 percent of the vote over Democratic Gov. Joe Kernan. By March 2005, a poll taken for The Star showed 55 percent of voters approved of the job Daniels was doing.

But after a series of controversial issues -- including pushing for daylight-saving time and leasing the Toll Road -- those numbers plummeted. A poll taken for The Star in March 2006 showed that 37 percent approved of the job Daniels was doing.

J. Ann Selzer, whose Iowa-based public opinion research firm Selzer & Co. conducted the new poll between Nov. 13-16, called Daniels' current 40 percent approval rating "dismal," reflecting the "sour" mood of the state...

Rising property taxes, their personal finances, the lease of the Indiana Toll Road and the state's switch to daylight-saving time all contributed to Daniels' disapproval rate...

A number of things to say here:

On the numbers:
-Wow, thanks for that helpful survey, distinguishing between Daniels winning 53% of the vote and having a 55% approval rating two months into the job.

-While the current numbers are low-- and signal at least some (if not significant) trouble for Daniels-- they are an improvement from a year and a half ago. The damage to his reputation was done in the first year, not the 20 months that have followed.

On the politics of this: As usual, it's difficult to discern cause and effect...
-To what extent are his Democratic challengers looking relatively good-- because they aren't known for much of anything? In other words, are people pro-Schellinger and/or pro-Thompson or anti-Daniels?

-To what extent are his problems a dislike of Republicans or incumbents in general-- or a dislike of Daniels in particular?

-Looking to the future, I think Daniels' approach to property taxes will pay off-- both in terms of the reforms that will come from it and from the public perception that he has addressed the problem.

-The most interesting thing to me is the political economy of the Daniels' approach to governance. Although one can find areas in which to disagree with his policy prescriptions, he has been relatively non-political in crafting dangerous political positions. A pure politician would have avoided Major Moves, Daylight Savings Time, closing BMV branches, and talking about privatization so much. If Hoosiers vote him out, in essence, because he's leading, then we're likely to get-- and to deserve-- a passive and pandering governor.


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