Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Over the last few weeks we've found that voters in Ohio and Wisconsin have quickly soured on their new Republican Governors, John Kasich and Scott Walker respectively. But Michigan's Rick Snyder wasn't like Kasich and Walker. He campaigned as a moderate and won by 18 points in a state bluer than either Ohio or Wisconsin while his counterparts were just squeaking by in their races. You would think that even if Snyder's popularity has fallen after two months in office it hasn't fallen as far as Kasich and Walker's.
Think again. Snyder actually now has the worst numbers of this new trio of GOP Governors, with only 33% of voters approving of him to 50% who disapprove. And despite his overwhelming victory last fall voters now say that if they could do it over they'd pick Virg Bernero over Snyder by a 47-45 margin. Snyder's current status is definitely emblematic of the adage that the higher you climb the farther you fall.
What's happened to Snyder? What made him such a formidable candidate last fall was incredibly strong support from independents and an unusual amount of crossover appeal to Democrats. Neither of those things has lasted. His approval with independents is now just 32% with more of them at 44% disapproving. That's a remarkable drop given that our final poll of the race last fall found him leading by 40 points with those voters. He's also down to just a 10% approval with Democratic voters. If there's any silver lining in his numbers it's that he does maintain strong support within his own party- 68% of Republicans approve of him to 13% disapproving.
Snyder's ability to win big in a blue state was due to his successfully presenting himself to the voters as a centrist but he's lost that image with a lot of folks over the last few months. In September we found 46% of voters in the state thought Snyder was 'about right' ideologically to only 26% who thought he was 'too conservative.' Now those numbers are basically tied with 37% judging him about right and 36% too conservative.
A few specific things are causing Snyder these problems. His signature Emergency Financial Act has been a giant thud with voters in the state. Only 32% of voters support it to 50% in opposition. Democrats are a lot more convinced that it's a bad thing (71%) than Republicans are that it's a good thing (53%), and independents split against it by a 45/36 margin as well.
Snyder's also earned the ire of the voters because of the perception that he's targeting collective bargaining rights. 59% of folks in Michigan think that public employees should have the right to collective bargaining while only 32% are opposed, and 49% of voters even favor a state constitutional amendment to guarantee collective bargaining rights while 37% are opposed to such a measure. While union households are obviously the most supportive of collective bargaining, nonunion households support it by a 53/39 margin as well so the voters Snyder is antagonizing on this issue go beyond who you might expect.
The one good piece of news for Snyder in this poll is that as far as his stock has fallen, voters don't want to recall him. Only 38% go so far as to say they would support that move, while 49% are opposed. In Wisconsin earlier this month we found voters in the state evenly divided on recalling Walker even though his approval spread of 46/52 was much better than Snyder's. That suggests that even though Snyder has fewer voters standing with him than Walker, the ones unhappy with him aren't as unhappy. That leaves more room for his numbers to recover once things calm down. It's been one rocky start though.
Full results here