According to Civitas’ July polling, after just seven months in office, Governor Bev Perdue’s favorability rating has fallen to 30 percent. This low number is well off the previous high of 58 percent the first time we asked the question in our March poll. In just five months, faced with a mounting budget crisis, a furlough of state employees and ever increasing unemployment numbers each month, her favorability rating has been basically cut in half while her unfavorable rating has doubled.
With her numbers this low, it begs the question, just how low can her favorability rating go? Is it possible for it to drop further?
To answer this, let’s first take a look at how she is doing with voters in each party to see if there is further room for decline.
Naturally, Perdue’s favorability is going to be lowest among the opposition party, Republicans, where she has already almost bottomed out, with just 14 percent of Republicans having a favorable opinion of her.
Theoretically, Perdue’s favorability could drop all the way to zero with Republicans, but the likelihood of that happening is very small. For argument’s sake, let’s say she has about another 4-5 points to hit rock bottom at around 10%. That’s the lowest number I can find for arguably the most unpopular politician of our generation (President George W. Bush) among the opposition party, so let’s say that Perdue goes down to 10 percent favorability among Republicans.
Since Republicans make up roughly 35 percent of our sample, a further decline of 5 percentage points would take her overall favorability down about two points to 28 percent.
Again using GWB as a benchmark, his lowest rating among unaffiliateds hit 19 percent in our polling. Now I’m not saying Perdue is as polarizing or unpopular a figure as GWB was, but her current pattern shows she may well be on her way.
Perdue is currently at 30 percent favorable among unaffiliateds, so it would appear she has the possibility of about another 10 percent decline.
Another 10 percentage point decline in unaffiliateds (roughly 20 percent of voters) would result in another two point decline in her overall rating bringing her overall favorability down to 26 percent.
Here’s where things get a little tricky. Bush bottomed out at a low of 26 percent favorable in our polls. If Perdue loses the Republicans and Unaffiliateds in the manner described above, she’d be at that same number. But the key thing for Perdue is she already has a lower level of support from Democrats as Bush had from Republicans. Bush’s lowest level of support from Republicans was 53 percent – Perdue is currently at 41 percent from Democrats, 12 percentage points lower than Bush ever achieved.
The good news for Perdue is that the decline in her numbers among Democrats has appeared to level off this month. Her pandering to the base by advocating tax increases to “save” education apparently has stopped the bleeding. So for arguments sake, we’ll consider this to be her floor for Democratic support at this point. When we asked a generic question on whether Perdue should be re-elected, 39 percent of Democrats said yes, within the margin of error of the current 41 percent favorability rating – indicating that her hard core support is in that range.
If roughly 40 percent favorability is her rock bottom level with Democrats as it appears, Perdue’s numbers mathematically can only go down another 4-5 percentage points overall if she loses Republicans and Unaffiliateds as spelled out above. Assuming we see no further major economic, or ethical blunders and she does not botch a natural disaster response, it is safe to assume Perdue’s rock bottom level of support is around 26 percent favorability.
Coincidentally, 26 percent was the number of voters who said they would vote to re-elect Perdue today, or in political terms, her hard re-elect numbers.
So is Perdue at the bottom at 30 percent favorability? According to our analysis, not quite, but pretty close. She could bottom out at 26 percent barring any further erosion of her base voters, but as of now, Perdue’s numbers are about as low as she can go.