Presidential elections are all about electoral math. Republicans know they need to peel off states the President carried in ’08 to have any hope at all in ’12. Getting to 270 electoral votes will require the GOP nominee to “flip” at least 4-5 big states and some number of smaller ones.
One of the reasons the midterm elections last year created so much enthusiasm in Republican ranks was the party’s success in Obama’s “blue” states. In that cycle, Republican Governors were elected in electoral vote-rich states like FL, OH, PA and NJ. In November 2010 it looked like a red tide was sweeping the country.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Turns out those shiny new Governors pushed hard for a conservative fiscal and social agenda that has made them wildly unpopular in their blue states.
Here’s an astonishing chart detailing the rapid double-digit falls of the newly minted Governors in just six months of holding office. Rick Scott (FL) is down 20 points to 29 percent approval. Rick Snyder (MI) is down 25 percent to 33 percent approval. Tom Corbett (PA) is down 15 percent to 39 percent. Of course Terry Branstad here in Iowa is down from 55 percent to 37, a drop of nearly 20 points over the same time period.
This is an almost unprecedented group free-fall happening across regions in big states and small, tracked by multiple polling firms. If a recall election were held today in each state with a new GOP governor, 9 states would throw the bums out.
The numbers are treacherous for the individual politicians, but even more interesting is the impact these CEOs will have on the 2012 elections. Their collective failure gives the President the opportunity to go into their states and contrast his leadership with theirs, making him look better by contrast. Don’t look for the eventual GOP nominee to have an arm around many Governors.
Walker may have the highest profile as he whacks teachers and librarians in Wisconsin, but Rick Scott in Florida is far more instructive, in that his 29 percent number is sparking speculation the state may be far more competitive for Democrats in congressional seats and statewide elections there next year.
Keep a watch on these 9 states: AZ, FL, GA, IN, MI, OH, PA, WI and IA. If their Governors continue to be this unpopular, these states could turn a very close election into an Obama/Biden rout.