Our top 10 most popular governors, revisited

The Fix loves feedback. (Really we do!)

And when we put together our (admittedly subjective) list of the top 10 most popular governors in the country on Wednesday, we got plenty of it — almost all of it devoted to the governors who were left off our list.

So, we decided to revisit the subject — taking into account some of the most cited snubs from our list. They’re below. Enjoy!


Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal addresses the state legislature on the opening session in Baton Rouge, La., Monday, March 12, 2012. (AP/Gerald Herbert)

* Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R): Certainly a worthy addition, Jindal was so popular that Democrats didn’t even run a real candidate against him in the state’s 2011 governor’s race. (And at one point, a potential challenger released a poll showing Jindal leading him by 29 points. Really.) Jindal, who is often mentioned as a potential presidential candidate in 2016, boasts very good approval numbers back home. But the last available poll — from several months ago — showed his approval rating falling to 55 percent. Also working against Jindal making our list: The fact that he comes from a very conservative state with a despondent opposition party.

* Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D) The incoming National Governors Association chairman is certainly a rising Democratic star, and his approval rating has consistently been in the high-50s and low-60s. Markell has also done difficult things, including raising taxes and negotiating budget-cutting concessions from public employee unions and has remained popular all the while. At the same time, his approval rating, at last check, isn’t higher than the other names on our list, and he comes from a strongly Democratic state.

* Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R): Fallin has been popular in the Sooner State for a long time, dating back to her days in Congress and her three terms as lieutenant governor. The most recent Sooner Poll in January showed her approval at 69 percent and her disapproval at 16 percent — on par with the best numbers of any governor in the country. But this is Oklahoma, arguably the most anti-Obama state in the country, so there is built-in support for a conservative Republican. Still, Fallin’s numbers are astronomical, and she could have made the list.

* Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R): Heineman’s approval in a 2010 Rasmussen poll topped out at 77 percent (!), and he’s consistently been in the 60s and 70s in all public polling. (Heck, he beat beloved former University of Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne in a primary a few years back!) There was little doubt he could have walked into the U.S. Senate when Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) announced his retirement this year, but he opted not to. Like Fallin, Heineman benefits greatly from representing a very conservative state.

* Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D): We may have dropped the ball by not including Beshear. How soon we forget that he cruised to reelection in 2011 with an approval rating that went as high as 69 percent in one poll. And Kentucky is a very conservative state. At the same time, only one pollster has shown Beshear with such good numbers, and he was not all that popular before 2011.

Other honorable mentions:

* North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R), who had a 61 percent approval rating in a recent Democratic poll. But that’s not all that high considering the GOP lean of this state.

* South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R), who (besides being awesome for sporting the double-A in his last name) also has recorded a 60 percent approval rating. Like Dalrymple, though, that tracks with his state’s conservative politics.

* Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead (R), who actually had the highest approval rating — 77 percent — of any Rocky Mountain governor in that poll we mentioned frequently yesterday from GOP pollster Public Opinion Strategies. Mead could certainly have been on the list.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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