Posted Tuesday, March 29, 2011, at 11:00 AM
Public Policy Polling continues its tour of swing states that elected Republican governors last year and have already soured on them. In Florida, Rick Scott's already deep in the negative zone.
Scott's approval rating is just 32% while 55% of voters in the state are unhappy with his work so far... [2010 Democratic loser] Alex Sink leads Scott 56-37 in a hypothetical rematch. Independents say they would vote for her by a whooping 32 point margin at 61-29 and even 21% of Republicans now say they'd vote for her, more than twice the 10% level of GOP support exit polls showed her winning in November.
This is a robo-poll, but it's finding a Scott-centric problem. Marco Rubio enjoys positive, plurality approval numbers. More people in the sample say they voted for John McCain than Obama in 2008, even though Obama won the state; 47 percent of the people polled say they're conservative, to only 23 percent who say they're liberal.
So Scott joins John Kasich of Ohio and Scott Walker of Wisconsin in the ranks of GOP governors with horrible robo-poll numbers only three months into their terms. The Florida difference: There hasn't been a robust union or Democratic protest movement of Scott. There's just negative media coverage about how his family could benefit from his own policies, complaints from Republicans about his leadership, disapproval of his cuts to education and the state workforce (as he phases in an end to corporate taxes), irritation with the cancellation of the Tampa-Orlando rail line, etc and so on.
I wrote earlier this month that the rejection of these governors' austerity packages were potential problems for the GOP's national ticket in 2012 -- it's hard to win without Ohio and Florida. These are still potential problems. Anger at budget cuts can subside if the economy picks up. And from a policy perspective, it's hard to argue that Kasich, Walker, and Scott are making mistakes. They won power, and they're using it. If they go down in flames in four years, they leave the public sector unions much weaker and the welfare state much smaller, with low taxes that will be difficult to raise.
But so far, is there any Republican who's been able to copy Chris Christie's success and become the leader of an austerity-v.s.-public worker greed campaign? Any nominees?
UPDATE: Something that should have occurred to me before: Christie has to deal with a Democratic legislature. He's limited in what he can propose, but fairly unlimited in what he can cut, and what he can campaign against.