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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Governors: 2010 Could Be Bad Year For Incumbents

In all the talk about the possibility of a good Republican year in 2010 once President Obama and the Democratic Congress start being held accountable for a sluggish economy, it’s often forgotten that there are 50 different incumbents who could be held accountable for the horrid fiscal situation the recession has helped produce in the states.
Nate Silver has taken a comprehensive look at approval rating trends for 14 governors whose popularity has been measured by Survey USA. Only three (Tim Kaine of VA, Jay Nixon of MO, and Bob Riley of AL) currently have approval ratings of 50% or higher. Of the twelve for whom data is available from a year ago, eleven, unsurprisingly, have lower approval ratings now (the exception is Steve Beshear of KY). Sarah Palin isn’t in this batch of surveys, but as Ed Kilgore noted yesterday, her approval ratings have crashed as well.
Of the 36 governorships that will be up in 2010 (19 held by Democrats, and 17 by Republicans), 16 involve term-limited or retiring incumbents (8 for each party), which could mitigate the anti-incumbency factor in some of these states. But in assessing the impact of voters angry at the state of things, remember that they won’t just be voting on the status quo in Washington, but a lot closer to home.

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