Poll shows Ivey among most popular governors; has good news for Sen. Jones
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey remains one of the nation’s most popular governors, and new Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) fares better than his predecessor, according to a new poll released Thursday.
The survey by Morning Consult included interviews with 275,000 registered voters in all 50 states from Jan. 1 through the end of March.
The news is good for Ivey as she runs for election to a full four-year term after ascending to the governor’s office following Robert Bentley’s resignation.
Ivey has the support of 67 percent of Alabama voters, with just 15 percent disapproving. That is even better than a January Morning Consult poll that found 64 percent approving of Ivey.
Only Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan had higher approval ratings in the survey released Thursday. And in terms of net approval — approval minus disapproval — only Baker outperforms Ivey.
This stands as an outlier in another way. Among the five most popular governors, only Ivey serves a deep red state. The other four all are Republicans in Northeastern states that lean either slightly or dramatically to the left. In addition to Baker and Hogan, that includes Vermont’s Phil Scott and New Hampshire’s Chris Sununu.
All of the 10 most popular governors are Republicans, a bright spot for a party bracing for losses in other races in the upcoming midterm elections.
Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, a Democrat, is the nation’s most unpopular governor — with a whopping 72 percent of the state’s voters giving him a thumbs-down.
Five governors seeking re-election are under water — Illinois Republican Bruce Rauner (minus 34 percentage points), Alaska independent Bill Walker (minus 23 points), Hawaii Democrat David Ige (minus 12 points), Rhode Island Democrat Gina Raimondo (minus 11 points), Wisconsin Republican Scott Walker (minus 7 points).
The Morning Consult poll puts Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) in the middle of the pack, with 51 percent of Alabama voters approving of his job performance and 30 percent disapproving. That is similar to the results of a Morning Consult poll released in January. Half of Alabama voters approved of Shelby’s performance, while 28 percent disapproved.
Shelby’s net positive rating of 21 points in the current survey ties for 27th most popular senator in the country.
That is a percentage point below Jones, who stunned the political world in December with his upset victory in a special election to fill the Senate seat that Jeff Sessions vacated to become attorney general.
A smaller share of Alabama voters approve of Jones — 47 percent. But only 25 percent said they disapprove. More people had no opinion one way or another compared to Shelby.
Jones, for now, is ahead of Luther Strange — who won appointment to the seat but failed to win the GOP nomination for the special election. Jones had a 42 percent approval rating — with 34 percent disapproving — according to his last Morning Consult poll.
Morning Consult declared that Jones is “off to a fine start among voters in Alabama.”
Jones fares much better than the Senate’s other newcomer — Minnesota Democrat Tina Smith, appointed to fill the seat left open when Al Franken resigned amid sexual harassment allegations. Smith gets a positive rating from a third of Minnesota voters, with 21 percent disapproving. A large chunk of voters in the North Star State do not know her or have an opinion.
The nation’s most popular senators are evenly split along partisan lines — five Republicans and three Democrats and two independents who caucus with Democrats.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) remains the most popular senator, with a 72 percent approval rating among home-state voters. Fellow Vermonter Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, is second with a 65 percent approval rating.
As they were in the last Morning Consult poll, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) are the least popular senators. Both have net disapproval ratings of minus 18 points.
McConnell will not be on the ballot in November and Flake is leaving office. But the results contain bad news for four senators who will be on the ballot — Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Dean Heller (R-Nev.). All are among the 10 least popular senators in America.