Five months into her new role as Iowa’s chief executive, Kim Reynolds isn’t well-known but is off to a “solid start,” according to a quarterly poll of constituents.
Reynolds, who became governor in late May following the resignation of Gov. Terry Branstad to became ambassador to China, is the most unknown governor among constituents, according to the poll done by Morning Consult, which specializes in online survey and market research.
Three in 10 voters said they either didn’t know her or had no opinion of the Republican governor, who was Branstad’s lieutenant governor since 2011. Before that, she was in the Iowa Senate and had served four terms as Clarke County treasurer.
Although many Iowans don’t know her, Reynolds got a favorable rating from 45 percent of voters, Morning Consult said. Her disapproval rating was 27 percent.
South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard was the nation's 10th most popular governor, with an approval rating of 59 percent and a disapproval rating of 25 percent among his constituents. Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts got an approval rating of 56 percent and a disapproval rating of 29 percent.
The results are based on polling from July to September of 255,120 registered U.S. voters, including an undisclosed number in Iowa.
The poll also found approval numbers for Iowa’s U.S. senators, Republicans Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, dropped slightly. Grassley’s approval fell from 52 to 50 percent. Ernst’s dropped from 47 to 45 percent. Their disapproval numbers were 35 and 36 percent, respectively.
Reynolds’ Morning Consult numbers are consistent with Iowa Poll results from February and July. She had 44 percent approval in the former and 46 percent in the latter, with 24 percent disapproval in both.
For Reynolds, who hopes to get elected governor a year from now, that’s bad news, said an Iowa Democratic Party spokeswoman.
“Less than half of Iowans approve of the job Gov. Reynolds is doing, and it’s no wonder why: her mismanagement and misplaced priorities have led to a devastating budget crisis that hit Iowa families and businesses in the pocketbook,” said Tess Seger, adding that Democrats “are confident voters will hold her accountable at the ballot box next year.”
But the numbers looked much rosier to Reynolds’ campaign spokesman Pat Garrett. They reflect Reynolds’ focus on “building a better Iowa and ensuring our state keeps moving in the right direction.”
“These positive numbers reflect the fact that Iowa’s high school graduation rate is the highest in the nation, and our unemployment rate is low,” he said.
Reynolds’ approval numbers fall far short of the 10 governors who ranked highest. All Republicans, their approval ratings ranged from a high of 69 percent for Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker to 59 percent for South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
On the other hand, Reynolds fares better than New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who had a 77 percent disapproval rating. Disapproval ratings for the remainder of the bottom 10 governors ranged from a high of 47 percent for Alaska independent Gov. Bill Walker to 68 percent for Connecticut Democrat Dan Malloy. He was the lone Democrat in the group.
The full results are at: morningconsult.com/2017/10/31/americas-most-least-popular-governors-october-2017/.