Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey among America’s most popular governors, poll shows
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey is among the most popular governors in the country, according to a Thursday poll that surveyed voters in all 50 states.
The poll by Morning Consult, which included 253,393 registered voters nationwide from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, shows 64 percent of Alabama voters approve of the job Ivey is doing as governor — compared with 15 percent who disapprove. The 49-point spread is third-highest in the country, trailing only Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan.
The 15 percent disapproval rating is the lowest among governors, one point better than the share of Massachusetts residents disapproving of Baker.
Ivey expressed gratitude at the survey results.
“I am absolutely humbled to have such great support from Alabamians,” she said in a statement. “It is the greatest privilege of my life to serve as your governor. You all are the reason I serve & I very much look forward to continue serving as your governor.”
Jess Brown, an emeritus political science professor at Athens State University in northern Alabama, said the poll puts Ivey in a strong position as she prepares to campaign for a full term.
“The governor’s race as of today is hers to lose,” he said. “Are you asking me, can she continue to ride the honeymoon another 90 days to get her through the primary? If she’s reasonably cautious and prudent, the answer is yes.”
Ivey faces a GOP primary in June against at least four challengers — state Sen. Bill Hightower (R-Mobile), Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, evangelist Scott Dawson and Michael McAllister.
Brown said Ivey has an advantage over most of the other governors, who have been in office several years and have the warts of contentious political battles in their state capitals. He said chief executives tend to benefit from a rally-around effect if they take office as a result of an assassination, resignation, sudden death or other surprise circumstance.
“Not surprised at all, and I think it has a lot to do with the context in which she became governor,” Brown said. “They typically enjoy high ratings because it’s sort of like pressing the reset button for the electorate.”
Ivey ascended to governor from her position as lieutenant governor last year after her predecessor, Robert Bentley, resigned following his guilty plea to ethics charges related to his use of state funds to conceal an affair with a staffer.
Brown said Ivey smartly cleaned house.
“She’s been able to score some easy political points through the removal of Bentley appointees,” he said.
Browned added that Ivey also has benefited from a combination of familiarity from her many years in statewide office without controversies that could dent her standing with voters.
“She’s been visible in Alabama politics, but she hasn’t been a lightning rod on any issue,” he said.
Across the country, the poll was good news for Republicans in a crucial elections year that in many states will determine which party controls the redistricting process following the 2020 census. The 14 most popular governors all are Republicans. Six of the top 10, including Ivey, will be on the ballot in November.
Republicans also dominate the top 10 most unpopular governors, although two of them already have left office — including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who had a whopping 76 percent disapproval rating.