Deja Vu

[box type=”info”] We continue our series on the approval ratings of Midwest governors with Iowa’s Terry Branstad.[/box]

Terry Branstad doesn’t really fit the mold of being a “new” governor. Branstad previously served as governor of Iowa from 1982 through 1998, and got the itch to do it again last year. Unlike some of his Midwest counterparts, he prevailed with more than 50 percent of the vote in a crowded field of that included four third-party or write-in candidates. Branstad wasted little time using the perceived political capital he earned in the election to pitch a number of ideas somewhat aligned to other GOP governors’ views including an initiative to remove health-care and retirement benefits from state workers’ collective bargaining perview. Unlike Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, he’s stop short of stepping on labor unions’ highest voltage third-rail issues, but he’s nonetheless done enough to tick them off.

Still, Branstad seemingly owned the economic the high ground and used the same mantra he chanted his first time around as governor: Gotta Change. We’re Broke. But then Iowa–in all its corn-fed goodness–threw Branstad a curve ball. Officials reported that tax receipts would  run 6 percent higher than the previous year. Compared to other states, they’re hanging on by twine, not thread.  As written in an excellent Des Moines Register op-ed:

[box] “As any student of government can tell you, it is much easier to make big changes during tough economic times than when things are going well…All that [past] bad news gave Branstad a powerful hammer to wield in his efforts to cut spending and make state government more efficient. Now, nearly three decades later, he’d like to reprise his role as the governor who made change happen. But it won’t be near as easy this time. The sense of urgency and desperation is not the same.”[/box]

While Iowa isn’t rolling in clover, the arrows in reformers’ quivers have been somewhat dulled when compared to other states in deeper red ink. So how will the hero on the white horse be viewed when the damsel is not so distressed? We asked 1,926 Iowa residents the following straightforward question:

[box] In general, do you approve or disapprove of the job Iowa Governor Terry Branstad is doing?[/box]

And the results are:

Branstad Approve/DisapproveApproveDisapproveUncertain
ALL RESPONSES:43.98%49.43%6.59%
BY GENDER
Female:42.55%50.04%7.40%
Male:45.96%48.57%5.47%
BY PARTY ID
Republican75.53%19.34%5.14%
Democrat17.48%76.86%5.66%
Independent37.00%54.02%8.98%

Branstad has kept his popularity high among his own Party members–perhaps a byproduct of his ability to stay away from  flame throwing–although right-wing bloggers aren’t real enthralled with the governor. And he has, for now, lost a chunk of support from Independents–the group that helped him succeed in his comeback. Similar to Wisconsin, a relative small number of people are without an opinion on Gov. Branstad–probably due to his long-time experience in the state’s spotlight.

Unlike governors in Illinois, Ohio and Wisconsin, Branstad’s popularity is relatively healthy.

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