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Poll: WV Gov. Jim Justice’s approval rating takes hit

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Three months after rating as one of the nation’s most popular governors, Gov. Jim Justice’s approval ratings have dropped in the latest polling released Tuesday by Morning Consult, a digital media and survey research company based in Washington, D.C.

In the latest survey, Justice had a 51 percent approval rating among state voters, with 34 percent disapproval, and the remainder undecided.

That’s down from 58 percent approval/24 percent disapproval in Morning Consult’s last ranking of governors, released in mid-April, moving Justice from the 15th most popular governor in the U.S. to 34th.

Morning Consult cited Justice’s struggles to get a budget bill through the Republican-controlled Legislature as a key factor in his drop in popularity, noting:

“Some of the newcomers in office elected last November are also seeing declining fortune in terms of voter perception in their states. Gov. John Carney (D-Del.), saw his net approval rating drop 19 points from the first quarter as he negotiated a new budget deal, although half of registered voters in the state still back him. It’s a similar story for Jim Justice in West Virginia, who saw a 17-point drop in his net rating after clashing over the budget with Republicans in the statehouse as he attempted to implement some new taxes. Phil Scott (R-Vt.) also saw a 13-point drop in his net rating.”

Justice said Tuesday that only politicians are fixated on polls.

“I know the people of West Virginia are with me,” Justice said in a statement. “I’m focused on building new roads and creating jobs across West Virginia. You don’t need polls to tell you the people aren’t happy the Legislature failed to pass my plan to fix the drug epidemic, give our vets and seniors a tax break, give rebate checks to the poor, create the Save Our State fund to spur economic development, expand tourism funding, and spare West Virginia families from painful budget cuts that were totally unnecessary.”

State Republican Party chairman Conrad Lucas called Justice’s ratings decline “the tip of the iceberg.”

“The more people get to know Jim Justice and his irresponsible tax-and-spend policies, the less they approve,” Lucas said. “Justice’s antics continue to embarrass West Virginia and people have noticed.”

Lucas pointed out that the 10 most popular governors in the Morning Consult survey are all Republicans.

However, Morning Consult noted that the two most popular governors in the polling, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Larry Hogan of Maryland, are: “Two canny dealmakers who have largely eschewed the national political scene and have been unsupportive of President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans’ efforts to repeal and replace significant parts of Obamacare.”

Baker had a 71 percent approval rating, followed by Hogan’s 68 percent, both in traditionally Democratic states.

The least popular governors are also both Republicans, with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie edging out Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback for the dubious distinction, with disapproval ratings of 69 percent and 66 percent, respectively.

Morning Consult stated, “Roughly 7 in 10 (69 percent) of New Jerseyans disapprove of Christie, who most recently raised the ire of Garden Staters by visiting a beach that was closed to the public as a result of an ongoing state government shutdown. Brownback, meanwhile, in June suffered a stunning rebuke from state legislators in his own party, who overrode his veto of a measure to increase taxes, rolling back his signature 2012 cuts he had claimed would kick-start the economy. Two-thirds of Kansans disapprove of Brownback.”

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1220 or follow @PhilKabler on Twitter.

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