There’s something about Pawlenty

It’s budget season and that’s open season on politicians, but after six years on the job, most of which have been taken up by budget cutting, it may be time for DFLers to acknowledge that Tim Pawlenty’s nickname should be be “Teflon Tim.”

Eric Ostermeier, who writes the Smart Politics blog over at the Humphrey Institute has analyzed Pawlenty’s latest approval ratings and pulls out this nugget:


In fact, Pawlenty is one of only three Governors in the 14 states polled by SurveyUSA who currently has an approval rating in excess of the vote received during the state’s last gubernatorial election. And only Virginia’s Democratic Governor Tim Kaine (+5) has a higher net favorability rating vis-à-vis vote percentage than Pawlenty (+4). The average gubernatorial job performance rating across the more than one dozen states polled is 11+ points south of the average election vote tally.

What Ostermeier doesn’t mention in his list, however, is that only Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick had the third party competition (Christy Mihos – 6% of the vote) in the election in 2006 that Pawlenty had from Peter Hutchinson in the same election (6.4%).

In that context, it was actually easier for Pawlenty to have a higher approval rating than on election night than most any other governor.

  • BJ

    @In that context, it was actually easier for Pawlenty to have a higher approval rating than on election night than most any other governor.

    Great item to point out. Assuming the 3.2% is from the Peter Hutchinson voters (OK IP friends this is just a stupid poll I know that 50% blah blah blah), he still is a head but not by a lot.

  • http://www.smartpoliticsblog.org Eric Ostermeier

    Bob — I considered that argument (the third party factor) before posting my blog at Smart Politics, but I ultimately did not find it persuasive. Here’s why:

    True, if there was not a strong third party candidate in the 2006 race, then Pawlenty would have received a slightly larger vote percentage. However, that percentage would still have been short of the 50 percent mark (and thus Pawlenty would still be in the “plus” territory in my analysis).

    The reason?

    Conventional wisdom (at least among disgruntled DFLers) is that Hutchinson took away votes from Mike Hatch, not Pawlenty. Now, while I don’t subscribe to that theory generally, Hutchinson’s platform was definitely much closer to that of Hatch than Pawlenty. As such, I don’t think you’d be getting half, let alone a majority, of Hutchinson’s 6 percent falling into Pawlenty’s column if he were not on the ballot in that race. (In fact, he may not be Governor now to have an approval rating to measure).

    Third, if anything, the cards in this analysis are stacked against Pawlenty (and the other 13 Governors about which SurveyUSA polled) – as these approval numbers come from a poll of 600 residents (not likely voters). As such, there is a larger percentage of “non-stakeholders” in the mix — those who did not vote for Pawlenty (or the other governors) and thus are not inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt, particularly in these trying economic times.

  • Bob Collins

    Eric. Good point. I guess what I’m suggesting is somewhat less insightful; that in a three-way race — a strong three-way race — the victor is probably going to have a much smaller percentage of the vote, and therefore wouldn’t have as far to fall as those in a two-way race.

    None of that, of course, should take away from your observation that given the context of the times, Pawlenty’s ability to maintain his approval rating is significant.

  • Bob

    Am I the only one who thinks it’s strange to regard a politician with a roughly 60% approval rate as having a “high” approval rating?

    Grading on a curve, that would be about a D.

    Now, if Pawlenty or any other politician had a rating of 75% or more, that to me would be considered high, and would therefore be newsworthy.

    When only slightly more than half of those surveyed say they approve of the politician in question, that to me translates as the surveyees saying the pol doesn’t suck too terribly bad, not that the pol is doing a superior job.

  • Bob Collins

    Any time you talk about politician’s approval ratings, you’re grading on the curve. 50% is REALLY good, especially for a guy who’s had 6 years in office.

    Take president, for example. The HIGHEST minimum approval rating in history, is only 56% (John Kennedy). The second-highest is 48%.

    But the thing with Pawlenty is that he has neither gained, nor slipped in that time. A lot of times you see guys who might hit 75-80 percent, but they can’t maintain it and end up at 30-40.

    Pawlenty has been noteworthy, perhaps, for NOT being able to win over opponents, but he’s also noteworthy for not upsetting — too much — the people who put him in office.

    Say what you want, but there aren’t many people who can do that over time.

  • http://www.mnprogressiveproject.com/diary/2903/mydfl-rates-possible-candidates-for-governor Grace Kelly

    I am not surprised about the high approval rating giving that most media has been covering Pawlenty in a very favorable light.

    Most people do not realize that the cut in health services means people without health care, going bankrupt or dying or possibly both.

    Similarly the fact that state of the bridge was known before collapse was not covered. Instead the “design” flaw bogus story was covered.

    Pawlenty news coverage spins like the sun in its bright favorable coverage.

  • http://www.myspace.com/cass_of_shadows Cassandra Morrison

    Tim Pawlenty is one of those poorly equipped human beings who believes a child’s fable (the Book of Genesis) is scientific fact. He believes the world is 6,000 years old—which would be fine except then these idiotic creationists have difficulty explaining the records of people and civilizations that pre-date Bishop Ussher’s date for creation.

    Only an absolute moron could believe in Creationism—Pawlenty believes in it—we don’t need him anywhere near the White House—it’s bad enough we were stuck with him as our Governor.