Last year’s midterms elections swept incumbents from office nationwide, as voters turned to newcomers — often Republican newcomers — for change.
But just months after election day, three new Midwestern governors — Wisconsin’s Scott Walker (R), Ohio’s John Kasich (R), and Michigan’s Rick Snyder (R) — have seen their approval ratings fall to the point that polls show them losing hypothetical do-over elections with the candidates they beat last year.
In Wisconsin, Gov. Walker promised to make tough decisions on state spending, and beat Democrat Tom Barret 52% to 46% on election day. But when PPP polled the state in late February, they found that Walker would lose a do-over election by a seven-point margin.
After taking office, Walker, citing a budget shortfall, began to push a measure to strip most state employees of the right to collectively bargain on non-pay related issues, a proposal that deadlocked the state legislature as Democratic lawmakers fled to Illinois to stall the bill.
As the stalemate played out, Walker’s approval rating took a nose dive. By late Feburary, PPP found that nearly six in ten voters in the state disapproved of his job performance.
In Ohio, a similar story has played out for Gov. Kasich, who also ran on a platform of reining in government spending. In November, Kasich defeated incumbent Gov. Ted Strickland (D) 49% to 47%.
By mid-March, PPP found Kasich’s approval rating deep underwater, with just 35% of voters approving of his job performance, compared to 54% who disapproved. Furthermore, in a proposed do-over election, PPP found Kasich losing to Strickland by 15 points.
Kasich began his short tenure with a mini scandal when he called a state trooper an idiot, on camera, three times. He also pushed to strip state union’s of their collective bargaining rights through a bill called SB 5. That bill would actually go further than the one in Wisconsin by not exempting fire and law enforcement unions from the changes.
In his first budget proposal released earlier this month, Kasich aimed to close an $8 billion budget gap largely through cuts to government services, such as a tightening of the eligibility requirements for government-subsidized health care for children in low income families. That has some Ohioans grousing that Kasich’s budget cuts will most hurt the state’s poor.
In Michigan, Governor Rick Snyder (R) is facing a backlash of his own.
Last November, Snyder beat Democrat Virg Bernero by a huge 18-point margin. But in a PPP poll released yesterday, registered voters suggested they wish they’d elected Bernero — who won a hypothetical do over, 47% to 45%.
Since taking office, Snyder has pursued a number of controversial proposals, such as one that would grant him the power to declare a financial emergency in a given city and appoint an emergency manager to modify or void union contracts, and even dissolve a city government — a proposal one supporter likened to “financial martial law.”
In PPP’s latest poll, 50% of respondents said they opposed that proposal, versus 32% who said they supported it.
The also poll found that a majority of registered voters in Michigan disapprove of Snyder’s job performance. Fifty percent of respondents said they disapproved of the job Snyder was doing, while just 33% said they approved.
In November, citizens voted for change in all three states. But now that they’ve got it, they may be starting to have second thoughts.