America's Most and Least Popular Governors

Republicans, who control 33 governorships, largely make up the top and bottom 10
Morning Consult illustration by Czarina Divinagracia and Jennilyn Gabor
October 10, 2018 at 12:01 am UTC

Key Takeaways

  • Charlie Baker (R-Mass.) and Larry Hogan (R-Md.) keep their place at the top.

  • Mary Fallin (R-Okla.) and Dan Malloy (D-Conn.) remain at the bottom.

  • David Ige (D-Hawaii) posts 20-point jump in net approval.

For the seventh quarter in a row, the 10 most popular governors in the country are all Republicans.

Six of the governors who top the latest edition of Morning Consult’s Governor Approval Rankings -- based on 361,607 surveys with registered voters across the country conducted July 1 through Sept. 25 -- are on the ballot next month and appear to be cruising toward re-election. (See methodology here.)

That includes Republican Govs. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Larry Hogan of Maryland, who top the list again despite representing deeply blue states. Seventy percent of Bay State voters approved of Baker’s job performance in the third quarter of 2018, while 67 percent of Marylanders backed Hogan’s work in office.

Gov. Chris Sununu of nearby New Hampshire is also in a strong position, holding the approval of 60 percent of Granite State voters as he nears two years in office.

Rounding out that sextet are three governors in more conservative states: Sixty-five percent of Alabamians approve of Kay Ivey, 58 percent of Arkansans approve of Asa Hutchinson and 57 percent of Texans approve of Greg Abbott.

RELATED: America's Most and Least Popular Senators

Republicans control 33 of the governorships in the country, and in addition to their domination of the top of the rankings, they also make up 70 percent of the bottom 10.

GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner of Illinois is the least popular governor on the list up for re-election this year, with 62 percent of voters in the state disapproving of his work. In Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker is seeking a third term, 50 percent of Badger State voters disapprove of him, making him the second least popular Republican on the ballot next month.

Gov. Gina Raimondo, seeking a second term, is the most unpopular Democrat on the ballot next month: 47 percent of Rhode Island voters disapprove of her.

Fifty-four percent of Alaskans disapprove of independent Gov. Bill Walker, a former Republican, as they prepare to decide his fate next month in The Last Frontier.

The two most unpopular governors in the country, Republican Mary Fallin in Oklahoma and Democrat Dan Malloy in Connecticut, are both leaving office in January with similarly anemic approval ratings -- 17 percent for Fallin and 20 percent for Malloy. Opposing partisans in both states are hoping the sour taste left in voters’ mouths from their tenures will bring electoral dividends next month following two terms out of power.

It’s a similar story with Susana Martinez of New Mexico, Rick Snyder of Michigan and Paul LePage of Maine, three term-limited Republicans who will leave office in January. Fifty-four percent of New Mexicans, 54 percent of Mainers and 50 percent of Michiganders respectively disapproved of Martinez, LePage and Snyder during the third quarter.

Confidence in Ige returns

In comparison with the second quarter, the third quarter of 2018 was less volatile when it came to public opinion toward governors: Morning Consult recorded two double-digit swings in net approval during the third quarter compared with four in the second.

But it was a big quarter for Gov. David Ige (D-Hawaii), who appears to have put the erroneous missile alert warning in January behind him, posting a 20-point net positive swing as he held off an Aug. 11 primary challenge from Rep. Colleen Hanabusa.    

Fifty-two percent of Hawaiians said they approve of Ige, up from 39 percent in the second quarter and 37 percent in the first quarter. His disapproval dropped from 49 percent in the first quarter and 46 percent in the second quarter to 39 percent in the latest sample.

Phil Scott’s approval stabilizes

Things have also gotten better for Vermont’s Republican governor, Phil Scott, who improved his net rating by 7 points following a 38-point drop during the second quarter, in which he signed legislation tightening gun restrictions in the state after a teenager was caught planning a school shooting.

Fifty percent of Vermonters approve of his job performance and 38 percent disapprove. Those numbers come at an opportune time for Scott, who is looking to hold off a challenge next month from Christine Hallquist, the first transgender candidate for governor in U.S. history.

Bevin still in hot water

As his 2019 re-election campaign approaches, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) has yet to recover from his tumultuous second quarter, in which he experienced a 25-point drop in net approval that came amid a teachers’ strike and a fight over Medicaid work requirements. Fifty-five percent of voters in the Bluegrass State disapprove of his job performance, compared with 30 percent who approve.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the share of voters who approve of Scott.

A headshot photograph of Cameron Easley
Cameron Easley
Lead U.S. Politics Analyst

Cameron Easley is Morning Consult’s lead analyst for U.S. politics. Prior to moving into his current role, he led Morning Consult's editorial coverage of U.S. politics and elections from 2016 through 2022. Cameron joined Morning Consult from Roll Call, where he was managing editor. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Follow him on Twitter @cameron_easley. Interested in connecting with Cameron to discuss his analysis or for a media engagement or speaking opportunity? Email [email protected].

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