Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Florida Governor Rick Scott's "tough love" not so popular - are we surprised?

Quick update here on the woeful performance of Republican Governor Rick Scott of Florida, at least by the standards of current approval ratings. Yes, the New York Times reported today that Scott has the lowest approval of any governor in the country. What a distinction!

Not surprisingly, when asked about his 29 percent approval rating in a Quinnipiac University poll conducted in May, he said, "I don't think about it." Well, he might want to start.

As the Times reports:
His negative rating has soared from 22 percent in February shortly after he entered office to 57 percent, suggesting that the more Floridians get to know him, the less they like him.

No matter how this may impact him whenever he has to face the voters again, the real issue could be what it does to federal races in Florida in 2012.

The Times story continues:
Mr. Scott's sinking popularity has Republican politicians and some strategists worried that his troubles could hamper their chances of tilting the state's 29 electoral votes back into their column in 2012. President Obama won Florida by 2.8 percentage points in 2008.
Republican Senate and House candidates are also worrying, strategists say, that the governor's rapidly declining popularity will affect their chances of winning election.
Mr. Scott's unpopularity is mostly rooted in his aggressive push for large cuts in the budget and pubic-sector work force, his decision to reject $2.4 billion in federal money for a high speed rail project, and the dismissive and even abrasive way he deals with those who disagree with him or ask a lot of questions.
He also promised to create many jobs, and it has been the mantra of his tenure so far. But the state's unemployment rate, down from a high of 11.9 percent, is still at 10.6 percent.

And, of course, the Republican push at the federal level to "re-tool" Medicare can't help politicians at the local level in a state with so many elderly residents.

Here's the thing. Karl Rove and other GOP spinners want to argue that unless the economy substantially improves by 2012, which now seems unlikely, Obama is toast. But it does seem to me that at the local level (props to Tip O'Neill), the Republican governors who are inflicting all the pain better have a lot to show for it by the time the polls open again, or voters could decide to go with the president and the party that have at least tried to help and haven't been such pricks about it.

Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan are all states with relatively new and precariously perched Republican governors. There are a lot of electoral votes there that could go either way and not a few interesting House and Senate races. We'll see who pays the most for a poor economy in 2012.

(Cross-posted to Lippmann's Ghost.)

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