COVID-19 Major States
Fewest Restrictions Twenty Largest States
Parties and Pandemic Approval Ratings for Governor
Parties for State House & Senate and 2016 President Vote
    All 50 Gov Rate H S 2016
1 Wisconsin 2 D 60% R R R-47%
2 Missouri 4 R 58% R R R-57%
3 Arizona 8 R 60% R R R-49%
4 Texas 12 R 58% R R R-52%
5 Tennessee 13 R 62% R R R-61%
6 Indiana 16 R 76% R R R-57%
7 Florida 17 R 58% R R R-49%
8 Pennsylvania 25 D 64% R R R-48%
9 Georgia 28 R 43% R R R-51%
10 Maryland 30 R 85% D D D-60%
11 California 32 D 72% D D D-62%
12 Virginia 33 D 67% D D D-50%
13 North Carolina 36 D 70% R R R-50%
14 Ohio 38 R 80% R R R-52%
15 New Jersey 39 D 74% D D D-55%
16 Michigan 41 D 62% R R R-48%
17 New York 41 D 75% D D D-59%
18 Washington 44 D 67% D D R-53%
19 Massachusetts 48 R 82% D D D-60%
20 Illinois 50 D 65% D D D-56%




May 22, 2020

GOP Governors Not as Popular with Speedier
Reopenings as Dems Who've Been Tougher

Republican President and Statehouse Majorities Could Be in Peril
if Stronger Support for Democratic Swing State Leaders Holds Up

By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor

Democratic governors are reaping glowing reviews for their leadership in the coronavirus crisis in major swing states that have more restrictions in effect than Texas and several other critical battlegrounds where Republican counterparts have relatively pedestrian approval ratings with faster reopenings under way.

A Capitol Inside comparative analysis this week of new studies on the easing of lockdowns and voter appraisals on gubernatorial performances in the 20 largest states during the pandemic shows that the most popular leaders have been those who've been the most cautious and undaunted by intense criticism from the right.

This could be a bad sign for President Donald Trump and down-ballot Republicans if the general election results in November reflect the current state of public opinion on the ways the White House and the top leaders in big states have handled responses to the COVID-19 spread across America.

Trump would be in serious trouble if the strong support that Democratic Governors Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Roy Cooper of North Carolina, Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania and Ralph Northam of Virginia have garnered from voters in the coronavirus fight carry over into the fall.

The president could have substantial cause for angst in other major battleground states where voters have been less enthusiastic about the jobs that Republican Governors Greg Abbott of Texas, Ron DeSantis of Florida, Brian Kemp of Georgia and Doug Ducey of Arizona have done in the midst of the worst public health crisis in more than a century. The GOP quartet ranked among the 10 worst this week in a SurveyMonkey poll of the jobs that governors across the country have done in attempts to curb the virus spread in their states.

The most popular governors in the major states since the outbreak have been those that have imposed the most stringent restrictions and held firm on them in the face of mounting protests from conservatives who've decried their orders as draconian.

Arizona and Texas for example ranked eighth and 12th respectively in a new WalletHub study on the easing of coronavirus-fueled limitations that have been imposed in a pair of red states that Trump can't afford to lose this fall.

But Democratic Governors Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and Roy Cooper of North Carolina have substantially higher approval ratings than Abbott in swing states that rank in the bottom third of the analysis this week on the relaxing of lockdowns that the pandemic prompted.

Democrats as a result could be in position to flip legislative chambers in Michigan and North Carolina if the governors there are still being held in high regard by the end of the summer in states that still have significant restrictions in effect.

Wolf's strong support in Pennsylvania could put Democrats in striking distance of a state House majority in the Quaker State if it holds up as the pandemic unfolds.

The GOP could have statehouse majorities at considerable risk as well in Texas and Arizona where Abbott and Ducey are reopening their states faster than most and still facing revolts on the right for not moving swiftly enough.

Democrats in the meantime have a lock on the statehouses in Massachusetts and Maryland where GOP Governors Charlie Baker and Larry Hogan have the highest grades in the nation for the actions they've taken in states with some of the most restrictive lockdowns.

Kemp was the only governor in the nation who didn't fare better than Trump in two polls in the past week on the virus crisis leadership at the state and federal levels. A first-term leader who'd won the southern state's top job with significant help from Trump, Kemp was the first governor in a major state to start allowing businesses to reopen in a controversial move that's made him unpopular with a majority of the Peach State voters.

Democratic Governor David Ige and Kemp were the only two governors with lower ratings than a group of six Republicans that included Abbott and DeSantis that had approval marks of 58 percent based on the SurveyMonkey findings. Iowa Republican Governor Kim Reynolds, whose state could be in play in the general election as well, was tied with Abbott and the five others in the poll.

Abbott and DeSantis received positive marks from 57 percent and 60 percent of the voters in their respective states for crisis management in a Washington Post-Ipsos poll that was released last week. Kemp was a distant last among the 50 governors with only 39 percent support in the Washington Post survey while Democrats Wolf, Whitmer, Cooper and Northam scored high marks that ranged between 72 percent and 78 percent.

While Abbott's approval ratings during the crisis have hovered in the mid-50s in the past few weeks in a state where he's been the most popular Republican by far, he's failed to get a spike like Northam and Cooper have experienced in the past month in states where they'd fallen out of grace with voters before the virus surge.

Northam's support as a first-term governor in Virginia has soared 20 points or more in the past two months after plunging in the midst of a race-related scandal stemming from a college yearbook picture. Cooper, who wrestled the NC governor's office from the GOP in 2016, has seen his approval ratings vault almost as high in a state where the Democrats would claim a majority in the Legislature's lower chamber this year with a net gain of six seats.

Democrats who flipped both chambers in Virginia in 2018 might have a better shot at successfully defending their majorities at the statehouse when the next round of legislative elections are held as a result of the way the rookie governor has performed up to now in the coronavirus response.


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