Civitas polling over the past two months has shown a significant decline in both Gov. Bev Perdue’s job approval and personal favorability ratings.
After beginning the year riding high on the Democratic honeymoon period thanks to President Obama, Perdue’s numbers have taken a sharp nose dive. Her job approval rating is basically even and her personal favorability has fallen into the negative range.
While there has been some bleed off from her Republican and unaffiliated supporters, the largest decline can be attributed to the loss of her Democratic voter base.. This may explain why she traveled on a recent five city tour rallying teachers and state employees to fight to raise taxes and “save” education. Whether this tactic will work to bring back her base or push independent voters away is a fairly substantial risk; and one worth watching over the next few months.
Looking at her favorability ratings, Perdue’s overall favorability has declined from 58-20 (+38 percent) in March to a net negative rating 34-38 (-4 percent) in June. Her drop of 42 percentage points in just four months should sound the alarm for any politician.
Her drop in favorability rating can be tied directly to the erosion of her Democratic-base support. In the past four months her favorability among Democrats has dropped from 72-11 (+61) to 41-28 (+13).
In fact, her support among those who would be considered her core constituency – government employees – has plummeted from a 64-13 (+53%) rating in March to a 42-45 (-3%) rating in June.
While her job performance ratings have not dropped negatively in our polls yet, the disturbing trend reveals that those who initially sat on the fence and had no opinion of her job performance are breaking overwhelmingly negative. Basically, any voter willing to give the new Governor a honeymoon to get things started has turned negative on her job approval.
While her approval rating overall has remained basically flat, the “not sure” and “disapprove” polling numbers have basically flipped since January. As voters make up their mind on her job approval, it is predominately negative. Perhaps the best illustration of this is her approval rating among voters who work for government – what would seem to be Perdue’s base.
While her approval number has declined by only 9 percentage points, her “disapprove” number has increased nearly tenfold to a point where government employees now disapprove of her job as Governor. This dramatic change is probably a combination based on her decision in May to cut teacher and employee pay, and to remain silent while House leadership played chicken with the state budget, and state employees’ jobs, in an attempt to create support for a massive tax increase.
The immediate risk for Perdue is she is using significant political capital in her campaign to implement higher taxes to “save” education. She may be trying to restore her base but it is a campaign that may very well further alienate her with moderate and conservative voters. Voters already disapprove of her handling of the economy (43%-49% May 2009). A public push for an unpopular tax increase could very well drive her already sagging approval and favorability numbers even lower.