The COVID States Project has issued a series of reports since the beginning of the pandemic regarding approval of how state governors and the President have handled the pandemic. We also have a dashboard that allows examination of the approval levels of each governor and of the President over time (the latter, both nationally and state-by-state). In this report, we update our discussion of the approval trends, adding analyses of the trends of overall approval of gubernatorial and presidential job performance (which we term “general approval”) and focusing especially on governors seeking re-election. We are at a rare moment where a single issue – COVID – has been the most important issue confronting every governor since they last faced the voters. A key question will be how assessments of each governor’s handling of COVID-19 affects their electoral success. A secondary question is how important approval of an incumbent governor will be for their re-election prospects. (Note that we report all state-level approval data by wave in the appendix.) Some key insights are as follows:
●Average approval of governors’ handling of the pandemic is low (39% for the pandemic; and 40% for general approval). But approval ratings havegenerally held steady since our prior survey wave in June 2022, arresting what had been a long term slide throughout the pandemic.
●Approval of President Biden is also low (37% for the pandemic, and 35% for general approval), but has increased significantly since our preceding wave(by 3 points for the pandemic; and 4 points for general approval).
●Approval ratings of incumbent Republican governors running for re-election are significantly lower than those of incumbent Democrats also running forre-election.
●A major driver of the gubernatorial partisan approval gap is that Republican respondents rate their fellow Republican governors lower than Democratic respondents rate Democratic governors. Important electoral questions are(a)whether this will translate into an enthusiasm gap and (b) how strong a predictor of vote choice job approval will be in 2022.
●A second reason for the partisan approval gap is that Independents tend torate Democratic incumbents more highly than they rate Republican incumbents.