Branstad starting term with net negative approval rating?

Governor Terry Branstad defeated Chet Culver by more than 100,000 votes in November, but Public Policy Polling found no signs of a honeymoon in their survey of 1,077 Iowa voters between January 7 and 9:

Despite defeating Chet Culver and returning to office by a 53-43 margin in November, Terry Branstad is no more popular than his predecessor. Iowans disapprove of Culver's four-year record, 41-46, but they are also down on Branstad, 40-44. The two post almost identical numbers with independents, and are equally polarizing across party lines.

PPP's Tom Jensen comments,

Only 64% of Republicans like [Branstad], a lower number than you would expect and perhaps an indicator of some residual animosity toward him from his closer than expected primary contest. He unsurprisingly has little support from Democrats, only 18% of whom have a favorable opinion of him, and independents split 45/35 against him as well. [...]

So if voters don't like Branstad that much, you might ask, how did he still win by such a healthy margin? Well they certainly don't think much of outgoing Democrat Chet Culver either. Only 41% of voters approve of the work he did as Governor to 46% who disapprove. Voters who didn't like either Branstad or Culver likely went overwhelmingly for the challenger on the premise that he would at least take things in a different and possibly better direction.

I would add that PPP was polling all Iowa voters this month, but the group of voters who turned out in November skewed Republican. The statewide statistical report (pdf file) shows that the total number of Iowans who cast ballots in the midterm (1,121,175) was just under 53 percent of all registered Iowa voters. However, GOP turnout was nearly 69 percent (of 646,396 registered Republicans, 445,829 voted), while Democratic turnout was only 56.5 percent (of 698,227 registered Democrats, 394,252 voted). Republicans may not all like Branstad, but they at least viewed him as the lesser evil.

The PPP poll suggests that Branstad does not return to the governor's post with a popular mandate for his ideas. That should stiffen the spines of Iowa Senate Democrats during this year's legislative session.

  • Personally

    I'm a little tired of this "I'm mad at all of them" attitude.  If people think they can do a better job of doing things then run yourself.  I don't even necessarily that its about money because as we saw this year you don't need much money to get elected to the legislature.  People just like to gripe.  

    I'll say this, Terry Branstad has a problem with the truth when it comes to budgeting and numbers.  I do think however that everyone in the state should have been relieved when BVP lost the primary. We would have seen a level of activism out of the Governor's office that could have made Steve King look like the second most outrageous high profile official in our state.  

    • You believe Chet would have lost to BVP?

      My own thoughts align more with Deeth who says that the repubs did what they needed to do: they brought out TEB who was the only person who could beat BVP in the Primary, because BVP was the only person who would've lost to Chet in the General, or somesuch.

      OTOH, had Iowa elected BVP as governor, your last point would be terribly unpleasantly true.

      • I think that's about right

        Branstad was definitely the only person who could have beaten BVP for the nomination. Even after spending more than $2 million, he won by less than 10 percent.

        I think various "generic Republican" types could have beaten Culver (e.g. Rod Roberts), but none of them were in a position to put together a winning primary coalition. Branstad himself supposedly tried to talk Mary Andringa into running for governor back in the spring of 2009.

      • No

        I always hope for the bad to beat the worst and work from there.  I think Chet would have beaten BVP, but it was kind of like how I was hoping for Trey Grayson to knock off Rand Paul.  If you're going to get hit by the political train you want to make sure the train isn't that heavy.   (:

    • I still think Chet would have beaten BVP

      I was glad BVP lost the primary, because I thought that would indicate that even Republicans weren't excessively focused on the marriage issue. BVP's triumphant return via the retention campaign was really unfortunate. At least people don't seem to be showing up for his latest tour events.

      Even in a year this bad for Democrats, an incumbent as unpopular as Harry Reid was able to squeak by. I think Culver would have made it past BVP.

  • BVP

    I voted for that fool in the primary.  I thought Culver could beat him.  I didn't think Culver could beat Brandstad.  I do laugh at that dumb bastard Steve Deace when he crows that BVP got 40% in the repug primary.  Deace is too stupid to realize that some Democrats voted for BVP because he was and is a kook that could not and never will win a general election.

    • Kooks Won Everywhere

      Strategic voting is risky.  Lots of voters see only the R or the D after the candidate's name.  They don't know which challengers are kooks.

      If you help kooks get the nomination, you also strengthen their claims to legitimacy.  That will inspire new candidates just like them in the next election, even if the kook falls short in the November voting.

    • I know of some Democrats

      who voted for Branstad in the primary because they were afraid Chet would lose regardless and they didn't want BVP to be governor.

      I stay out of GOP primaries.

      • I consider voting in the GOP primary

        I thought about voting in the GOP primary mainly so MMM could win, so we could at least have an intelligent and an adult conversation about the issues facing the 2nd District.  I have a feeling that her opponents would have tried to make the whole campaign about the "death tax" in a general election, which is an issue, but its not on my top priority list.

        I would have voted for Branstad in the primary for the exact reason that dmd's friends listed above as well.

        I decided that I wanted to vote for Roxanne in a race that she was actually going to win however.  

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