The political news site Morning Consult has their new round of gubernatorial polls out from all 50 states, and there’s good and bad news for Iowa’s Kim Reynolds. The poll found she had 45% job approval, 27% disapproval, with another 30% listed as Don’t Know/No Opinion (that, uh, adds up to 102%, so I’m guessing most of the numbers got rounded up from a .5).
The 30% unsure number stands out. Reynolds has the highest percentage of unformed opinions of any governor in the country. Two other people near her with undecided constituents are first-term governors: South Carolina’s Henry McMaster (27% Don’t Know/No Opinion) and Indiana’s Eric Holcomb (26% Don’t Know/No Opinion). Kay Ivey, the governor of Alabama since April of this year, had a 24% Don’t Know/No Opinion.
It’s not a big surprise that nearly a third of Iowans still don’t have a clear opinion of Reynolds, who only took the office back in late May following Terry Branstad’s departure to China. However, she has been in the statewide public light for seven years now, so you might think more people would have gotten to know her by now.
Overall, the poll can pretty much be interpreted however you like. Obviously a 45% approval/27% disapproval is a decent spot to be in, and much better than many other governors in the poll (Chris Christie sits at a sad 18% approval/77% disapproval as his term soon comes to an end). Her disapproval number is the 17th lowest in the country.
Then again, her approval number is the 13th lowest among 50 governors. And who knows how all those undecideds will end up seeing Reynolds by the time she’s up for election in 2018. She faces a very difficult messaging battle in the year to come, with constant bad news about the state’s budget likely to overshadow any positive vision she hopes to lay out for the voters. Continued cuts in vital services have led to nonstop horror stories in the Iowa press, from children under DHS watch starving to death to mental health patients dying after their health facilities were shut down.
Reynolds will also see nonstop attacks from a large Democratic gubernatorial field hoping to face off with her, as well as criticism from her own party with Cedar Rapids Ron Corbett in the Republican primary. Where those 30% of Iowans end up (as well as whether Reynolds’ own support holds steady) will determine who’s living in Terrace Hill in 2019.
by Pat Rynard
Photo via Air National Guard