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Voters Turn Sharply Away from Tea Party Governors in Florida, Wisconsin

People will attribute the Democratic win in NY-26 to the House GOP plan to end Medicare, and they should. But this backlash actually started much earlier. It started after Republican governors tried to attack workers and push a far-right agenda on states that didn’t want it. Now these governors are paying a high price in terms of popularity.

In Florida, Rick Scott is at almost comically low levels after less than six months on the job.

Florida voters disapprove 57 – 29 percent of the job Gov. Rick Scott is doing, the worst score of any governor in the states surveyed by Quinnipiac University and down from a 48 – 35 percent disapproval in an April 6 survey, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

The state’s new budget is unfair to people like them, voters tell the independent Quinnipiac University poll 54 – 29 percent. Gov. Scott and the State Legislature are equally responsible for the budget, 68 percent of voters say. The legislature’s job approval rating is nearly identical to that of the governor, as voters disapprove 56 – 27 percent, compared to 47 – 35 percent disapproval in April.

This isn’t some Democratic bastion, it’s the ultimate swing state, and Scott’s branding of the GOP as extremely unpopular has to hurt them in the overall scheme of things.

The same thing is happening in Wisconsin, where a high-profile attack on collective bargaining rights has really torpedoed Scott Walker.

Scott Walker’s popularity has continued to decline over the last three months and Wisconsin voters now say they would vote to recall him if there was an election today. They also say they would pick either Russ Feingold or Tom Barrett over Walker in a head to head match up.

43% of voters now approve of the job Walker is doing to 54% who disapprove. When PPP polled the state in late February it was 46% of voters approving to 52% disapproval. Walker’s numbers now are virtually identical to where they were before with Democrats and Republicans but with independents he’s seen his popularity continue to decline from a 45/53 approval spread to a 40/56 one.

Voters split evenly in February at 48% on the question of recalling Walker but now the needle has moved towards bare majority support for removing him early from office. 50% say they would support a recall to 47% who are opposed. That Walker’s disapproval is 54% but the support for recall is only 50% shows there are still some voters who dislike him but wouldn’t go so far as to support removing him from office, but there aren’t many.

Unlike Florida, Wisconsin will have the opportunity to voice their disapproval of Walker very rapidly. There are recall elections coming up in July, and in the PPP poll voters said they’d rather have a Democratic state Senate by a count of 50-42. They flip three seats in July and they get that wish. In addition, Walker himself could be up for a recall come January. PPP has the numbers for that, but they also polled head-to-head matchups between Walker and both Russ Feingold and Tom Barrett. Feingold leads 52-42, and Barrett leads 50-43.

Republicans spent all their political capital on unpopular decisions in a matter of months, and they’re paying a political price. Was it worth it in terms of policy? At the federal level, no, or at least not yet. At the state level, the changes made by Walker and Scott, if they stick, would change those states fundamentally for decades to come. A lot rides on the legal outcome of the anti-union bill in Wisconsin. If they lose the state Senate and don’t even get the collective bargaining changes implemented, then that would be more of a waste.

UPDATE: And now we see that John Kasich looks just as bad as these guys in Ohio, with a 33-56 approval rating. These Tea Party governors are going down in flames.

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David Dayen

David Dayen