It’s probably a good thing that Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas has no illusions about being Donald Trump’s running mate.
Among all 50 governors in the country, Republicans and Democrats alike, Brownback is saddled with the lowest public approval rating, according to a new national survey by Morning Consult. Only 26 percent of Kansas voters approve of Brownback’s job performance, and 65 percent who say they don’t.
The 59-year-old two-term Republican governor and former U.S. senator was once the darling of the Tea Party and seemed to have limitless possibilities in politics. But his deep, Reagan-inspired tax cuts and fiscal policies drove up the state’s budget deficit and pushed its economy into a ditch.
Now Brownback stands out as the most reviled state chief executive in the country, despite some pretty stiff competition. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan, who many blame for the drinking water crisis in the city of Flint, suffered the steepest decline in popularity of any governor, according to the new survey. Yet Snyder finished third in unpopularity behind Brownback and Democratic Gov. Dan Malloy of Connecticut, whose state has suffered job losses to neighboring Massachusetts, among other problems.
Snyder’s disapproval rating among Michigan voters skyrocketed by 17 points to 63 percent, according to the new poll, while the percentage of voters who approve of the former Republican businessman dropped 13 points.
It may be cold comfort for Snyder, but fellow Republican governors Chris Christie of New Jersey, the failed 2016 presidential candidate and now staunch Trump ally, and arch-conservative Paul LePage of Maine, who has waged a crusade against food stamps and other social services, scored approval ratings only slightly better than Snyder.
On the other side of the ledger, freshman Republican Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts emerged as the most popular governor in the country, with 72 percent of state residents approving of his performance and only 16 percent disapproving. Baker, 59, is a former businessman and state secretary of health and administration. Although he was narrowly elected in the predominantly Democratic state in 2014, Baker has generated high approval ratings in part by skirting partisan politics and focusing on issues including government reform and the epidemic of opioid addiction.
Running a close second with a 71 percent approval rating is freshman Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, who was elected on a strong anti-tax platform and has governed as a moderate and pragmatist. Hogan, 59, is only the second Republican governor of Maryland in nearly a half century. He gained enormous sympathy and support throughout the state during his successful battle with cancer.
The survey found that of the six governors running for reelection this year, most enjoy a roughly 50 percent approval rating. Among those are Republican North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, who is currently embroiled in a controversy with the Justice Department over a new law regulating transgender bathroom rights. The two exceptions are Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican. Both of them have topped a 60 percent approval levels.
The Morning Consult surveyed more than 66,000 voters in all 50 states taken between January and early May. Here are the five least popular governors, and the five most.
Charlie Baker, Massachusetts (R) – 72 percent approval rating
Larry Hogan, Maryland (R) – 71 percent
Matt Mead, Wyoming (R) – 67 percent
Jack Markell, Delaware (D) – 66 percent
Gary Herbert, Utah (R) – 64 percent
Sam Brownback, Kansas (R) – 26 percent approval rating
Dan Malloy, Connecticut (D) – 29 percent
Rick Snyder, Michigan (R) – 32 percent
Chris Christie, New Jersey (R) – 36 percent
Paul LePage, Maine (R) – 38 percent
Click here to see how well your governor performed.